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Mini-mall on Utopia Parkway welcomes shoppers

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The Utopia Center features a Barnes & Noble, which is set to open in two weeks. The Sprint Store is also awaiting an opening. Stores open for business include a Thriftway pharmacy, a Citibank and a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream store.

There is an empty store on the corner for which the owners are considering either a restaurant or a retail store, said Doron Nissan, part owner of the Utopia Center.

In addition to the stores, there is a mixture of financial and medical tenants in the Utopia Center. The tenants include Primerica financial services, Modern Dental Concepts, NS/LIJ - Zucker Hillside Hospital family treatment program, Hospital for Special Surgery, Advanced S.P.O.R.T.S. and St. John's office of alumni relations.

Unlike most commercial centers in the area, the Utopia Center offers three levels of parking for its customers. Set to open in the next few weeks, the parking garage will offer 200 spaces.

"We can't wait for it to open - finally," said Diane Cohen, district manager for Community Board 8. "I think it will serve the community."

Nissan is a former vice president of Bankers Federal Savings where he was in charge of troubled assets and foreclosures. There was one particular man whose properties he frequently foreclosed on. That man introduced Nissan to the site that has in time become the Utopia Center.

In conjunction with the former president of Bankers Federal Savings, Nissan purchased the foreclosed property from the man in January 1998.

"We had a plan to turn an unsightly building into an attraction for the surrounding community," said Nissan. "It offers a nice location for people to go shop and have medical and business needs met."

Although the Utopia Center is not fully open yet, the community appears to be pleased with the new mini-mall.

"I think it's great - it enhances the area," said Ed Fischbien. "Barnes & Noble will be a big magnet. It's wonderful to have a superstore in your area."

Other local residents echoed Fischbien's comments. "I think it's great," said Kathleen Taggart. "They needed stores here."

The owners are considering plans for a formal grand opening, but no plans have been made as of now, said Nissan.

Reach reporter Tommy Hallissey by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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