By 2026, The Westfield Garden State Plaza hopes to open its location to house residents. That’s right, in a couple of years, you will be able to live next door to your favorite shopping center. There are considerable renovations in the works for the Garden State Plaza to upgrade its shopping area by adding a location for luxury apartments.
The first phase will involve adding 550 new units on the west side of the mall built by Mill Creek Residential. The apartments will blend into the shopping center with a one-acre ‘town green’ where “the local community can come together to live, shop, work, and play,” said Geoff Mason, the Executive Vice President of Development, Design, and Operating Management for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. There will be upgraded connectivity to public transportation with its own transit center, electric vehicle charging stations, and health and wellness amenities. On top of all of this, there are even more outdoor shops, restaurants, and community event spaces. It will be open to all residents, visitors, and Garden State shoppers.
With more people turning to the internet for their purchasing needs, malls have been falling behind, closing thousands of their stores over the last half-decade. UBS is now projecting between 40,000 to 50,000 retail stores in the United States to close over the next five years. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened this issue with many becoming more comfortable buying items online and finding in-person shopping a growing inconvenience.
Another problem is the high demand for housing in New Jersey which is far greater than the supply. With fewer options in housing, the properties that are left will become too expensive, raising the cost of living across the state. These renovations seem to be in an effort to ameliorate both the retail and housing issue. Offering hundreds of units will help fill some of the demand, not to mention the community-like setting will really draw in families. Placing these apartments beside hundreds of retail stores will make it more convenient for shoppers and better advertisement for the mall.
The Garden State Plaza has been extremely successful for years and is one of the highest revenue-producing malls in the country. These renovations prove exactly why this is true. Their ability to adapt and excel in the ever-changing market is what will keep this New Jersey staple in business. Whether this trend catches on with malls around the country or not, we will just have to see.