The Mall at Bay Plaza opened with huge fanfare on Thursday, August 14th - which is actually an addition to the existing Bay Plaza Mall. This mall's opening represents the first indoor mall building since 1972 when Kings Plaza in Brooklyn and the old Queens Center Mall opened. Technically, it is not the first new indoor shopping mall because Bay Plaza is already an outdoor, open air mall similar to Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, NY. The mall building sits on the south side of Bay Plaza, adjacent to the southbound side of the Hutchinson River Parkway and directly off Exit 11 of the New England Thruway, right in the heart of Co-Op City. The mall is connected to the existing JC Penney building along with two new indoor parking garages.
My family and I went to opening day - - as much as going to a Yankees or Mets ballgame, there is a lot of anticipation and excitement. Sadly, when we got inside the mall, we were disappointed - - and I don't expect a lot from NYC malls outside of Queens Center, my favorite mall in NYC.
The mall has 3 levels, the first two floors are the general mix of stores you would expect from a mall; Victoria's Secret (just had to put that at the top of my list), Bath and Bodyworks, Old Navy, Aeropostale, NY and Company, Zales, Forever 21, and the works. Macys has a new store in the indoor mall, opposite JC Penney, This is Macys second store in the Bronx,. The 2nd floor has some restaurants, such as Olive Garden and Joes Crab Shack, along with a large terrace over the "Mall Village" entrance to the east.
The 3rd floor has the requisite food court. The mall sits near two highways and three bus routes (Bx12/12SBS+, Bx29 and Bx38). All other bus lines run along Bartow Ave are just outside the mall's outdoor parking entrances.
Now for what's bad about this mall - plenty. The food court has only 3 open restaurants (only three), Subway, Sbarro (they are still in business) and a Chinese fast food place. There is a sign that others will open but the mix is uninteresting, Dairy Queen among them. The court's dining area is only a 1/3 filled with tables - - it's mostly empty space.
To get to the top 3rd floor from the stairs and escalators, you have to walk the long way around. Restrooms? Forget it - - maximum 3 stalls for each "bathroom" and some are not even open yet.
The Mall at Bay Plaza lacks wayfinding signage - - finding a bathroom or other services will be difficult unless you come across one of these signs . . . . not on the center of the mall floors but off to one side of a wall - - pretty obscure location:
The mall has 2 garages - - are you would expect from typical malls in NYC, parking will be anything but free after Labor Day
You can still park for free at any of the outdoor lots, including the JC Penney/AMC Theaters and Pathmark/BBQ/Bob's furniture areas. The Old Navy store was relocated from near Staples to inside the new Mall area. Traffic is going to be the biggest problem, especially during season - - there is no entrance/exit ramp along the southbound Hutchinson River Parkway. Most traffic will have to converge on Bartow Ave to get on I95 north/south. If you live in Co Op City then the Mall at Bay Plaza and the rest of BP would be great. Plus it's now the closest mall from Westchester County where you can enjoy tax-free savings on clothing and footwear up to $110. However, if you want less stress and better selection of stores, then go to Cross County Mall in Yonkers where parking is always free or take a nice ride up to the Palisades Mall in Rockland County where most everything sits in one monster of a building with free parking at the Mall's massive underground garage. You can even take a spin on the Ferris Wheel in the food court - as well as rock climbing, play games at Dave and Busters and bowl. Many stores in The Mall at Bay Plaza have yet to open so it clearly was a rushed job to open the mall - - and very poorly planned too.