Saks Fifth Avenue has shown no interest in relocating to Garden City's Roosevelt Field mall. The Manhattan retailer recently told mall officials they have decided to remain at their Franklin Avenue location in the village's newly beautified downtown strip, with the likes of Lord & Taylor, its neighbor one block south.
Village Administrator Bob Schoelle said Saks indicated some years back when the village objected to the mall's expansion that the store was interested in going to the mall. "They've apparently told Simon Properties [the mall's owner] they are not going to the mall," Schoelle said, "and we're very pleased about their desire to remain on Franklin Avenue.
"All indications point to their staying, their numbers are good in terms of sales here. Their management team in Garden City is playing a much greater role in community activities and all indicators are very strong that they're anxious to stay and do business here. It's a good relationship." Schoelle added Saks officials are talking about modifications to the basement area of their store. Plans are still in the theoretical stages, according to reports. Heidi Tummel, the store's general manager, was unavailable for comment.
Some residents say the decision to remain downtown will only help reclaim the prestige they think the village lost in the '90s when stores like Abraham & Strauss (A&S) closed and Bloomingdale's moved to the mall. Sears, Roebuck & Co. replaced Bloomindale's.
Althea Robinson, Garden City Chamber of Commerce executive director, said Saks has been a supportive member of the village's business district and the community in general. "We're very happy they're staying. It was their coming to Franklin Avenue that inspired our slogan 'Fifth Avenue of Long Island' back in 1956, I believe when they first opened here and the Chamber is very happy to have them staying with us," she said.
Approximately three years ago, the former mall owner, Corporate Property Investors (CPI), sought approval to build a Saks store at Long Island's largest regional mall but was turned down by the Town of Hempstead's Zoning Board of Appeals. Earlier this year, the town denied rights to further expand Roosevelt Field in order to make room for Saks. Expansion plans are expected to go before the Town of Hempstead's Board of Zoning Appeals again sometime next month.
According to published reports, a mall spokesperson said the store's decision to stay on Franklin Avenue would not adversely affect their expansion plans because Roosevelt Field is one of the most successful malls in all of the country so it's likely someone else will be interested in the space originally allotted for Saks.
Saks Inc., operator of its namesake stores, will close its department stores in White Plains after Christmas and sell the space to Fortunoff Fine Jewelry and Silverware Inc. Saks officials said the store is closing because of low performance levels. The store apparently had 100 workers, some of whom would be offered jobs at other Saks stores.