A Critical Question for NJ Towns: What Do You Do with a Dying Mall?

NJTV News | July 27, 2018 | Planning
There are more than 30 enclosed malls dotted across the Garden State — many in trouble — but some experts insist they can be given a new lease on life

Malls all across New Jersey are dying, and it’s a very public death — with marquees telling visitors and those cruising past on local roads that stores are vacant or out of business.

In fact, of the 28 enclosed malls scattered across the Garden State, many are struggling to stay profitable. High-end enclaves like The Mall at Short Hills, tend to be the exception.

The struggle is over for the Burlington Center Mall, which opened 36 years ago. Its 100 retail stores and restaurants are shut down, and Sears, its sole remaining retailer, is on the way out.

“You know, you have the change in the economy, where everybody is buying stuff online. And if you believe all the developers who want to come in here and talk to us about it, that type of mall and that type of retail is dead,” said Burlington Township Mayor Brian Carlin.

But what happens to these big, empty structures?

The answer, according to James Hughes, dean emeritus of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, is what he calls “retooling malldom in New Jersey, shifting activities to experience, health, wellness, and a whole range of other functions that weren’t even anticipated 20 years ago.”

Read the full story on NJTV News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.