PARAMUS, N.J. — Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), a shopping center owner-operator based in France, has unveiled plans to redevelop Westfield Garden State Plaza, a 2.1 million-square-foot regional mall in the Northern New Jersey community of Paramus.
According to Forbes, Westfield Garden State Plaza remains one of the best-performing regional malls in the country. But about 10 years ago, URW began planning a long-term redevelopment to distinguish the property from and compete with American Dream, Triple Five Group’s entertainment-heavy mega-mall that is located within the Meadowlands sports complex in nearby East Rutherford.
To that end, URW executive vice president Geoff Mason says that the redevelopment is about transitioning the mall into a mixed-use destination where living, working and leisure all come together.
The first phase of the redevelopment will center on the construction of 550 luxury apartments that will be integrated with the existing shopping and dining establishments via open green space. Phase I will also introduce a “main street’ outdoor district featuring restaurants and everyday convenience- and services-oriented retailers.
Ownership also plans to upgrade the existing infrastructure that connects to public transit services.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024, with the first residential units becoming available for occupancy in 2026. The development team has tapped national developer Mill Creek Residential to lead the multifamily phase of the redevelopment.
“Our vision for Westfield Garden State Plaza is about transforming the shopping center into a true town center where the local community can come together to live, shop, work and play,” says Mason. “Our partnership with Mill Creek Residential will help bring this vision to life by leveraging the firm’s incredible experience and best-in-class approach to create a landmark destination for the community.”
Future redevelopment plans also call for the conversion of surface parking areas that serve the mall into additional apartments, plazas, parks, gardens, health and wellness amenities, commercial office space and a transit center. These uses will be constructed alongside new outdoor shops, restaurants and community event spaces.
Westfield Garden State Plaza originally opened in 1957. The mall’s current anchor tenants are Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s and AMC Theatres. Other users include upscale restaurants Eddie V’s and Season’s 52, as well as entertainment concepts Pinstripes and Nerf Action Xperience.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has its origins in a 2007 merger between Unibail, which was founded in France in 1968, and Rodamco, which was launched in the Netherlands in 1999. The new entity then absorbed the real estate holdings and operations of Australian shopping center Westfield Corp. a deal that closed in summer 2018.
— Taylor Williams