Westfield Garden State Plaza
Westfield Garden State Plaza on Labor Day 2007, taken from second level above mall's food court
|Location||Paramus, New Jersey|
|Address||1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ 07652|
|Opening date||May 25, 1957|
|Developer||R.H. Macy & Co.|
|No. of stores and services||335 (As of March 2014)|
|No. of anchor tenants||5|
|Total retail floor area||2,118,718 sq ft (196,835.3 m2)|
|No. of floors||2 (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy*s, and JCPenney are three floors)|
|Parking||10,796 parking spaces.|
Westfield Garden State Plaza is a two-story, upscale shopping mall located in Paramus, Bergen County, New Jersey, owned and managed by the Westfield Group, and located at the intersection of Route 4 and Route 17 near the Garden State Parkway, about 15 miles west of Manhattan. With 2,118,718 sq ft (196,835.3 m2) of leasable space, and housing over 300 stores, it is the largest mall in New Jersey, the third-largest mall in the New York City Metropolitan Area, and one of the highest-revenue producing malls in the United States. Its department store anchors are J.C. Penney, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. It was the first large scale shopping mall in New Jersey.
Westfield Garden State Plaza ranks among the largest shopping malls in the United States, having been ranked 15th largest. Westfield Garden State Plaza is the largest mall in the Westfield Group's global portfolio in terms of leasable area. This is significant given that Westfield Group is the largest retail property group globally.
The mall had sales of $775 per square foot in 2013, about $320 above the national average, according to NJ. Gov. Garden State Plaza is one of the most profitable malls in the country.
Garden State Plaza was built in 1957 by the Muscarelle Construction Company for owner/developer R.H. Macy & Co. as an open-air shopping "plaza". Its groundbreaking design differed from today's "Big Box" shopping areas in that, rather than having its tenants strung around the periphery of one large parking lot, the stores, except for those more suited for out-parcels (e.g. automotive repair and retail), were clustered on a shopping island, encircled by a moat of parking lots, much like today. Connecting the stores were open-air sidewalks, complete with benches, plantered trees and other vegetation. This model approximated a "downtown" pedestrian mall, at the same time serving as a precursor of the latter-day enclosed and air-conditioned shopping malls. Eventually it would siphon most of the retail business from nearby downtown Paterson, whose Meyer Brothers and Quackenbush department stores (later Stern's-Quackenbush) would fall upon hard times and melt into history.
The original anchor was Bamberger's (owned by R.H. Macy since 1929). Gimbels and J.C. Penney were added in 1958. Total construction costs were $26 million in 1957 for the mall and its original group of 90 stores.
Garden State Plaza drew much business from nearby New York towns and cities, whose shoppers wandered across state lines to take advantage of New Jersey's lower sales taxes and its policy that exempted clothing purchases from sales tax. By 1961, it was the world's largest mall.
In the late 1980s, the mall added a new lower level by converting a former basement truck tunnel into regular retail. The existing J.C.Penney basement was given a new entrance on the lower level, but since the floors were at slightly different elevations, that entrance features the shortest escalator in North America, at a height of six steps.
As part of this expansion, Nordstrom opened its first New Jersey location on September 7, 1990, building a $37 million, 272,000 sq ft (25,300 m2)., three-level store on the former Gimbel's site. Lord & Taylor opened a store in the mall in 1996, its seventh in the state at the time.
In 1996, Garden State Plaza marked the completion of a $200 million expansion and major remodeling project that added over 700,000 sq ft (65,000 m2) of retail space and two four level parking structures, Parking Garage A, and Parking Garage B. The downstairs food court was connected to the lower level from the previous expansion. J.C.Penney grew by 62,000 to 150,000 sq ft (5,800 to 13,900 m2), and two new anchors were added, a 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) Neiman Marcus on three levels and a 135,000 sq ft (12,500 m2) Lord & Taylor on two levels, both targeted at the upscale fashion-conscious shopper. A Venetian Carousel was also added at that time of the expansion and remodeling. The carousel is located in front of Macy's.
The Borough of Paramus petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court to review a decision by borough's Planning Board, asking it to review the plans to construct a 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2) "entertainment lifestyle precinct" at the mall that includes a 16-screen AMC movie theater and 10 specialty retail stores, along with a 158,000-square-foot (14,700 m2) parking lot below the new wing, known as "Parking Garage C". The petition was turned down, and the mall celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the new expansion and stores opened on May 25, 2007.
On January 7, 2013, Parking Garage B, which at the time had already outlived its planned life expectancy and required regular ongoing maintenance, closed to the public. At that time, the 4-level, 1500 space Parking Garage B was razed and rebuilt as a new 5-level structure, featuring a Park-Assist electronic space indicator, and a speed ramp allowing exiting traffic to exit the facility without waiting behind vehicles looking for parking spaces, a problem that plagued the original structure and caused major delays within the original structure. The current 5-level, 1800 space Parking Garage B opened on November 15, 2013. As part of the Parking Garage B replacement, the new structure was moved slightly to the west of the original structure's footprint, requiring the relocation of Garden State Plaza Blvd under the structure's speed ramp to allow for the addition of new mall space. The new mall space will feature entrances to the new Parking Garage B, as well as 20 new stores on 2-levels. The new wing of the mall connecting to the new Parking Garage B opened on March 20, 2014.
Due to highly restrictive blue laws in effect in Bergen County and more restrictive limitations in place in Paramus, Westfield Garden State Plaza is completely closed on Sundays, except for some of the restaurants and the movie theater, all of which have special Sunday entrances. Westfield Garden State Plaza's parking lot is accessible, on Sundays, only from the Route 4 and Route 17 access points. Gates are down so that the access roads from the secondary streets are blocked. The Paramus Borough Code forbids the performance of any "worldly employment" on Sunday, with very limited exceptions. These laws were enacted shortly after Westfield Garden State Plaza opened out of fear that the mall would cause high levels of congestion in the borough.
Westfield Garden State Plaza is also a major bus transfer point for New Jersey Transit, as the 162 and 163 to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the 171 and 175 to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. Several local routes operated under contract to NJT by Coach USA Community Coach stop here; the 770 to Paterson and Hackensack, the 709 to Bloomfield, the 758 to Passaic and Paramus Park, Bergen County local routes 751, 753, 755, and 756 stop there.
On November 4, 2013, at around 9:20 p.m. EST, 20-year-old Richard Shoop began firing multiple shots outside Nordstrom. Witnesses described him as a man dressed in black, wearing a black motorcycle helmet, and carrying a rifle modified to look like an AK-47. Thousands of shoppers were trapped inside the mall as police quickly locked down the facility and began an hours long search for the gunman. Although Shoop had ample opportunity to shoot people before the police secured the scene, he shot randomly at different locations, resulting in no injuries. Shoop's body was discovered the next day at 3:20 a.m. in a back area of the mall. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Shoop was known by local law enforcement for a history of selling and abusing drugs. Authorities discovered a note that he had left behind, which mentioned that the "end was coming". Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli explained that he had acted alone and that "his intent was either suicide or to do something that would cause police to shoot him, which we call 'suicide by cop'."
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- Karsian, Dillon. "Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape", Retail Traffic, May 1, 1999. Accessed February 11, 2011. "In May 1990, Nordstrom debuted in New Jersey by constructing a $37 million, 272,000 sq. ft., three-level store on the former Gimbel's site."
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- Westfield Garden State Plaza
- Westfield Garden State Plaza, International Council of Shopping Centers
- Aerial View
- Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape, Retail Traffic Magazine, May 1, 1999