Westfield Garden State Plaza
Westfield Garden State Plaza as seen in July 2014 by AMC parking lot.
|Location||Paramus, New Jersey|
|Address||1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ 07652|
|Opening date||May 25, 1957|
|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 (anchors have 3 except Lord & Taylor)|
|Parking||Parking lot, parking garage, and valet parking with 10,796 parking spaces.|
|Public transit access||NJ Transit bus: 163, 171, 175, 707, 709, 756, 758, 770|
Westfield Garden State Plaza is a two-story, upscale shopping mall located in Paramus, New Jersey, owned and managed by the Westfield Corporation, 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 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.
The mall had sales of $500 per square foot in 2013, about $320 above the national average; Garden State Plaza is one of the most profitable malls in the country.
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.
The mall was enclosed between 1981 and 1984 in response to competitive pressure from newer fully enclosed malls such as the Willowbrook Mall in nearby Wayne. Later in the 1980's, a lower level was added by converting a former basement truck tunnel into retail space. 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.
In 1987, Gimbel's parent company, BATUS, which had been selling off its Gimbel's stores, sold its Garden State Plaza location to Associated Dry Goods. Associated reopened the store as the new headquarters for its Hahne's department stores. Hahne's had previously been headquartered at its flagship store in downtown Newark, NJ, which the company wanted to close. Two years later, a Nobody Beats the Wiz store was added to the mall site (now Best Buy).
On September 7, 1990, Nordstrom opened its first New Jersey location, building a $37 million, 272,000 sq ft (25,300 m2)., three-level store on the former Hahne's site. In 1996, Lord & Taylor opened a store in the mall; 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 and was located in front of Macy's. The carousel closed in 2016 and was removed so that the mall could use that space for The Bergen Performing Arts Center to give performances and shows. There was also a Bergen PAC ticket center located nearby as well. The performance area, was short lived and was replaced by a video game theater before converting into a lounge area in 2017. 
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. Other than the AMC, some of the stores and restaurants that are in the expanded wing are Grand Lux Cafe, Jamba Juice, a Sprint store, and Vans.
In 2013, the mall rebuilt the east parking garage, expanding it to five levels and 1,800 parking spaces. Adjacent were built a new guest services office and a valet lounge. A year later, the mall added a 55,000 square foot wing at a cost of $160 million known as the "Fashion District" that has 22 stores and restaurants. Tenants in the Fashion District include Microsoft Store, Michael Kors, LUSH, Armani Exchange, Au Bon Pain, and Urban Outfitters.
Due to highly restrictive blue laws in effect in Bergen County and more restrictive limitations in place in Paramus, 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. 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 Garden State Plaza opened out of fear that the mall would cause high levels of congestion in the borough. Governor Chris Christie was unsuccessful in removing the blue laws in 2010 which would have opened the mall on Sundays and brought extra sales and tax revenue. During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he suspended the blue law forcing it to be open on Sunday, November 4, 2012 for those severely affected by the hurricane. A week later, the blue laws were put back into effect.
On November 4, 2013, 20-year-old Richard Shoop fired multiple shots in the mall. Customers and employees were evacuated immediately from the mall premises shortly after the shots fired and the mall was on lockdown for hours. No one was injured or killed. The day after the shooting at 3:20 AM, Shoop committed suicide.
- Ma, Myles (10 January 2013). "Garden State Plaza in Paramus starts $130 million remodeling project". NJ.com. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- Westfield Garden State Plaza, Westfield Group. Accessed June 6, 2008
- Queally, James; Sherman, Ted; Grant, Jason (November 5, 2013). "Garden State Plaza shooting suspect killed self in mall, authorities say". NJ.com.
- Westfield Garden State Plaza, International Council of Shopping Centers. Accessed June 6, 2008 shows 2,000,000 ft²
- "Shoppers Throng to Opening of Bergen Mall in Jersey". New York Times. November 15, 1957. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
The 106-acre Bergen Mall regional shopping center here will open Thursday morning. The center, at which Stern's will be the principal-store, is being built by the Allied Stores Corporation at a cost of $40,000,000. It is at Route 4 and Forest Avenue.
- Ma, Myles (November 29, 2013). "Garden State Plaza addition to include Tory Burch, Microsoft stores". -NJ.com. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Karsian, Dillon. "Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape.", Shopping Center World, May 1, 1999. Accessed October 20, 2007. "Having undergone periodic renovations and expansions since its spring 1957 debut as an open-air center, the property today stands in the superregional class."
- "Garden State Shopping Center Due to Open May 1 in Paramus; It Will Be Largest in Jersey --Bergen Mall Being Built Less Than a Mile Away", The New York Times, March 20, 1957. p. 49.
- Verdon, Joan. "Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus", The Record, July 27, 2008. Accessed July 30, 2008.
- Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape, Retail Traffic, May 1, 1999
- Hill, Jeffrey. "Taken for a Ride: The insanity of escalators", Next American City, Summer 2008. Accessed February 11, 2011. "By contrast, the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, boasts the world’s shortest escalator pair in front of its JCPenney, at a comical height of six steps. Kids play on them while adults use the more practical, non-moving staircases to the left and right." Archived December 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- uncited, uncited (June 18, 1986). "11 GIMBELS STORES ARE SOLD BY BATUS". The New York Times.
- 26 Wiz Stores Will Be Closed in 2 Months NYTimes.com Accessed October 29, 2015.
- 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."
- Isadore, Barmash (January 12, 1989). "Lord & Taylor to Bolster Presence in New Jersey". The New York Times.
- Garden State Plaza carousel stops spinning. "NorthJersey.com". Accessed February 2, 2016.
- Gutis, Philip S (November 28, 1987). "The Talk of Garden State Plaza; Scene at Mall in Jersey: Toys, Tinsel and Frenzy". The New York Times. Accessed February 11, 2011. "Mr. Bacon, who took over as general manager after Westfield Inc., an Australia-based developer purchased Garden State Plaza from Macy's last year, said attracting customers to the malls is no real problem. Two million people, he said, live within a 10-mile radius."
- Greer, Kimberly (November 7, 1986). "3 Macy's Centers to Be Sold To Australian Company", Newsday. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- Verdon, Joan. These aren't your mother's shopping malls, The Record, February 11, 2007.
- Gartland, Michael (May 19, 2007). " Epic theater to play its final reel". The Record. Retrieved May 19, 2007.
- Indoor Parking Garage At Westfield Garden State Plaza- ParamusPost.com. Accessed November 15, 2015.
- Photos: New $160 million opens at Garden State Plaza- NJ.com. Accessed November 15, 2015.
- Paramus Borough Code: Chapter 391: SUNDAY ACTIVITIES, accessed December 18, 2006
- "SUNDAY SELLING PLAGUING JERSEY; Local Businesses Pushing Fight Against Activities of Stores on Highways – Other Group Active Local Option Opposed". The New York Times. June 2, 1957. p. 165
- Richard Shoop, New Jersey Shooting Suspect, Found Dead. "The Huffington Post". Accessed July 31, 2015.
- New Jersey mall gunman found dead hours after shooting- CNN.com. Accessed July 31, 2015.
- 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