Nestled in Elizabeth, New Jersey, The Mills at Jersey Gardens Mall is a testament to retail innovation and community development. Opening its doors on October 21, 1999, the mall was built on a former landfill, a challenging site that required extensive remediation. The transformation of this once unusable land into a bustling shopping center is a story of vision and determination.
The announcement of the mall’s plans in 1998 by Glimcher Realty Trust sparked interest and excitement. The mall’s position close to the New Jersey Turnpike and its status as an Urban Enterprise Zone contributed to its appeal as a desirable destination. The reduced 3.3% sales tax rate, a significant drop from New York City’s over 8% rate, became a potent lure for shoppers from neighboring states.
A direct exit was thoughtfully built to ensure smooth access to the mall from the New Jersey Turnpike without navigating through local streets in Elizabeth. The developer shouldered the $130 million cost of bonds for this infrastructure, reflecting a commitment to convenience and accessibility. The mall’s inception marked a new era in retail, setting a precedent for others to follow.
Architectural Features and Layout
Spanning a total retail floor area of 1,290,000 square feet, The Mills at Jersey Gardens is a two-level indoor marvel.
Housing 190 diverse stores and services offer a unique blend of shopping experiences. The architectural design emphasizes spaciousness and ease of navigation, allowing visitors to explore the mall’s offerings without feeling overwhelmed.
Public transit access further enhances the mall’s appeal. With NJ Transit buses 40, 111, and 115 connecting the mall to various locations, transportation is seamless. Situated near Newark Liberty International Airport and just a 30-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan, The Mills at Jersey Gardens offers a handy stop for both travelers and residents.
The mall’s layout is thoughtfully designed to cater to various preferences. From high-end brands to budget-friendly options, the mall’s diverse tenant mix ensures every shopper finds something they like. The architectural aesthetics reflect a blend of modernity and comfort, creating an inviting ambiance.
The Mills at Jersey Gardens: Economic Impact and Tourism
The economic significance of The Mills at Jersey Gardens extends beyond its walls. As a major shopping destination, it contributes substantially to the economy of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The jobs it creates and its revenue generate have a ripple effect, benefiting the broader community.
Tourism plays a vital role in the mall’s success. Its strategic location and tax incentives attract locals and tourists from New York City and beyond. The mall has become a must-visit spot for bargain hunters and fashion enthusiasts, adding to New Jersey’s tourist attractions.
The reduced sales tax rate on purchases and an additional 3% Elizabeth City Franchise Fee on certain items like food and drink have shaped shopping behavior. The mall’s unique tax structure has become a defining feature, influencing purchasing decisions and enhancing its appeal to out-of-state visitors.
Notable Events and Appearances
Over the years, The Mills at Jersey Gardens has been more than just a shopping center. It has been a stage for entertainment and a backdrop for media productions. Its appearance in the TruTV series “Impractical Jokers” in episodes like “A Loser Presents” and “Scaredy Cat” brought it into the limelight.
The mall’s versatile spaces have hosted various events, from fashion shows to community gatherings. Its ability to transform and adapt to different themes and occasions has made it a preferred venue for local organizers.
The media’s fascination with the mall and its frequent feature in news and entertainment segments have added to its allure. It’s not just a place to shop; it’s a place to see and be seen, a hub of activity and excitement that resonates with people from all walks of life.
Recent Developments and Challenges
Change is a constant in the retail landscape, and The Mills at Jersey Gardens has seen its share of transformations. The closure of Century 21’s location by October 5, 2020, following the department store’s bankruptcy, marked a significant shift in the mall’s retail dynamics.
Other recent developments include tenant changes, renovations, and adaptations to emerging retail trends. The mall’s ability to evolve and respond to market demands has been instrumental in maintaining its relevance and appeal.
Challenges, too, have been part of the journey. Economic fluctuations, changes in consumer behavior, and the ever-shifting retail environment have tested the mall’s resilience. Yet, through innovation and adaptability, it continues to thrive, reflecting the strength of its management and the loyalty of its patrons.
Current Tenants and Shopping Experience
The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, NJ, offers a rich and varied shopping experience that caters to a wide spectrum of tastes and budgets. With an impressive array of tenants, the mall provides a blend of fashion, dining, entertainment, and more.
Anchors and Popular Stores
Among the anchors, the mall boasts renowned names such as Marshalls, Burlington, Saks OFF 5TH, Cohoes, Bloomingdale’s, and Primark. These stores provide a solid foundation for the mall’s retail offerings, attracting shoppers with their wide selection and quality products.
Popular brands like adidas Outlet Store, Old Navy Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Michael Kors Outlet, Polo Ralph Lauren, Camille La Vie, Kate Spade New York Outlet, Pottery Barn Outlet, and Tommy Hilfiger add to the mall’s appeal.
Fashion enthusiasts can explore trendy options at Forever 21, H&M, and Guess Factory Store, while tech-savvy shoppers can find the latest gadgets at stores like AT&T and GameStop.
For children’s apparel, stores like Carter’s, OshKosh B’Gosh, and The Children’s Place offer delightful options. Footwear enthusiasts will find a variety of choices at Foot Locker, Clarks, and Skechers Superstore.
The dining experience at The Mills at Jersey Gardens is as diverse as its retail offerings. Fast-food lovers can enjoy classic favorites at Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Nathan’s Famous. For those craving sweet treats, 16 Handles, Cold Stone Creamery, and Haagen-Dazs provide indulgent options.
Sit-down dining is available at Applebee’s and Chili’s, offering a more relaxed meal experience. The Food Court houses various quick-service options, catering to different tastes and preferences.
Entertainment and Services
Entertainment options include AMC Theatres, where moviegoers can catch the latest films. The mall also provides various services such as Cohen’s Fashion Optical, Michael’s Jewelry Repair, and Simon Guest Services, ensuring that shoppers’ needs are met.
The Mills at Jersey Gardens stands as a symbol of retail excellence and community engagement. Its history, architectural brilliance, economic impact, and cultural significance make it more than just a shopping center. It’s a place of memories, a destination that has touched lives and continues to inspire.
The journey has been remarkable, from its inception on a remediated landfill to its current status as New Jersey’s largest outlet mall. The mall’s resilience, adaptability, and commitment to providing an unparalleled shopping experience set it apart.
As it continues to evolve, embracing changes and overcoming challenges, The Mills at Jersey Gardens remains a beacon of retail innovation. Its legacy is etched in the hearts of those who have walked its corridors, shopped in its stores, and celebrated its successes.