DECEMBER 14, 2015, 11:29 PM LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2015, 6:33 AM
BY JOAN VERDON
STAFF WRITER |
One of North Jersey’s oldest shopping centers, formerly known as Bergen Mall and reborn as The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, is preparing for another major makeover.
The Paramus shopping center’s owner is planning an expansion — reportedly to add a level above the existing center — to meet demand for space at the mall, which has benefited in recent years from the success of its off-price and outlet tenants, the fastest-growing category in apparel retailing.
Urban Edge Properties, the public company that owns the mall, expects to invest as much as $130 million in a 200,000-square-foot addition to The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, according to a recent financial filing by the company. That would make the project similar in size to the last renovation and expansion of the mall in 2006, and would increase its size by about 20 percent.
The proposal is a sign of the strength of the North Jersey retail market, and particularly Paramus. The planned revamp would be the latest example of malls responding to pressure to constantly evolve as they face the challenge of online commerce and changing shopping patterns.
Urban Edge has revealed some details about the project in public financial documents, and in meetings with analysts, but has not yet submitted plans to Paramus. Those familiar with the project said Urban Edge plans to add a third retail level over part of the existing shopping center, the section of the mall that houses the majority of its stores and the parking deck. One source said the expansion could be larger than 200,000 square feet, and possibly as big as 500,000 square feet.
Bergen Town Center is 1.2 million square feet. It is divided into two separate sections — the parcel west of Forest Avenue, which is a traditional enclosed mall with a parking deck and a parking lot bordered by a strip of additional stores, and the area east of Forest Avenue, which includes freestanding stores, including a Lowe’s and an REI store that provides gear for camping and hiking.
The enclosed mall portion was 99.9 percent occupied as of the end of September, according to Urban Edge’s third-quarter earnings report.