After several years of delays, Vornado Realty Trust started construction on its Rego Park Mall II project in May, a $550 million vertical mixed-use development in the New York City borough of Queens. The project, built on the former site of an Alexander's store, will feature 600,000 square feet of retail, in addition to 400 apartments and a 1,400-space multi-level parking garage.

Vornado conceived Rego Park II, a complement to its existing 351,000-square-foot Rego Park I center, about seven years ago, but opposition to its plans to bring in New York's first Wal-Mart as an anchor tenant set the construction schedule back a few years. The company hopes to open the project — now sans Wal-Mart — in 2009. Atlanta-based architecture firm GreenbergFarrow designed the project.

Earlier this year, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a Boston-based nonprofit that promotes economic development in inner cities, chose Queens as one of the most underserved inner city areas in the country. Currently, Queens County has 12 square feet of retail space per person, less than half that of the national average.