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Westfield Garden State Plaza

Westfield Garden State Plaza
Westfield Garden State Plaza on Labor Day 2007, taken from second level above mall's food court
Location Paramus, New Jersey
Address 1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ 07652
Opening date May 25, 1957
Developer R.H. Macy & Co.
Management Westfield Group
Owner Westfield Group
No. of stores and services 335 (As of March 2014)[1]
No. of anchor tenants 5[2]
Total retail floor area 2,118,718 sq ft (196,835.3 m2)[2]
No. of floors 2 (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy*s, and JCPenney are three floors)
Parking 10,796 parking spaces.[2]

Westfield Garden State Plaza is a two-story, upscale shopping mall located in Paramus, New Jersey, owned and managed by the Westfield Group, and located at the intersection of Route 4 and Route 17 near the Garden State Parkway, about 15 miles west of Manhattan.[3] With 2,118,718 sq ft (196,835.3 m2) of leasable space,[2][4] and housing over 300 stores,[3] it is the largest mall in New Jersey, the third-largest mall in the New York metropolitan area, and one of the highest-revenue producing malls in the United States. Its department store anchors are J.C. Penney, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.[2] It was the first large scale shopping mall in New Jersey.[5]

The mall had sales of $775 per square foot in 2013, about $320 above the national average; Garden State Plaza is one of the most profitable malls in the country.[6]


  • History 1
  • Blue laws 2
  • Public transportation 3
  • Incidents 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Aerial view of Garden State Plaza

Garden State Plaza was built in 1957 by the Muscarelle Construction Company for owner/developer R.H. Macy & Co. as an open-air shopping "plaza".[7]

The original anchor was Bamberger's (owned by R.H. Macy since 1929). Gimbels and J.C. Penney were added in 1958.[8] Total construction costs were $26 million in 1957 for the mall and its original group of 90 stores.[9]

Garden State Plaza drew much business from nearby New York towns and cities, whose shoppers wandered across state lines to take advantage of New Jersey's lower sales taxes and its policy that exempted clothing purchases from sales tax. By 1961, it was the world's largest mall.[9]

The mall was enclosed between 1981 and 1984 in response to competitive pressure from newer fully enclosed malls such as the Willowbrook Mall in nearby Wayne.[10]

In the late 1980s, the mall added a new lower level by converting a former basement truck tunnel into regular retail. The existing J.C.Penney basement was given a new entrance on the lower level, but since the floors were at slightly different elevations, that entrance features the shortest escalator in North America, at a height of six steps.[11] In 1989, a Nobody Beats the Wiz store was added to the mall site. It closed when The Wiz went out of business and was replaced by a Best Buy. [12]

The AMC Theatres at Westfield Garden State Plaza.

As part of this expansion, Nordstrom opened its first New Jersey location on September 7, 1990, building a $37 million, 272,000 sq ft (25,300 m2)., three-level store on the former Gimbel's site.[13] Lord & Taylor opened a store in the mall in 1996, its seventh in the state at the time.[14]

The Venetian Carousel at Garden State Plaza

In 1996, Garden State Plaza marked the completion of a $200 million expansion and major remodeling project that added over 700,000 sq ft (65,000 m2) of retail space and two four level parking structures, Parking Garage A, and Parking Garage B. The downstairs food court was connected to the lower level from the previous expansion. J.C.Penney grew by 62,000 to 150,000 sq ft (5,800 to 13,900 m2), and two new anchors were added, a 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) Neiman Marcus on three levels and a 135,000 sq ft (12,500 m2) Lord & Taylor on two levels, both targeted at the upscale fashion-conscious shopper.[10] A Venetian Carousel was also added at that time of the expansion and remodeling. The carousel is located in front of Macy's.

Westfield acquired the mall in 1986 from Macy's in a deal that also included New Jersey's Brunswick Square Mall and Quaker Bridge Mall.[15][16]

The Borough of Paramus petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court to review a decision by borough's Planning Board, asking it to review the plans to construct a 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2) "entertainment lifestyle precinct" at the mall that includes a 16-screen AMC movie theater and 10 specialty retail stores, along with a 158,000-square-foot (14,700 m2) parking lot below the new wing, known as "Parking Garage C".[17] The petition was turned down, and the mall celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the new expansion and stores opened on May 25, 2007.[18]

Blue laws

Due to highly restrictive blue laws in effect in Bergen County and more restrictive limitations in place in Paramus, Westfield Garden State Plaza is completely closed on Sundays, except for some of the restaurants and the movie theater, all of which have special Sunday entrances. Westfield Garden State Plaza's parking lot is accessible, on Sundays, only from the Route 4 and Route 17 access points. Gates are down so that the access roads from the secondary streets are blocked. The Paramus Borough Code forbids the performance of any "worldly employment" on Sunday, with very limited exceptions.[19] These laws were enacted shortly after Westfield Garden State Plaza opened out of fear that the mall would cause high levels of congestion in the borough.[20]

Public transportation

The following New Jersey Transit bus lines serve Westfield Garden State Plaza:

Of the eight buses that serve Westfield Garden State Plaza, the 707, 709, 756, and 758 does not provide service on Sundays.


On November 4, 2013, 20-year-old Richard Shoop fired multiple shots near the Nordstrom store in the mall. Customers and employees were evacuated immediately from the mall premises shortly after the shots fired and the mall was on lockdown for hours. No one was injured. The day after the shooting at 3:20 AM, Shoop committed suicide.[21][22]

See also


  1. ^ Ma, Myles (10 January 2013). "Garden State Plaza in Paramus starts $130 million remodeling project".  
  2. ^ a b c d e Westfield Garden State Plaza, Westfield Group. Accessed June 6, 2008
  3. ^ a b Queally, James; Sherman, Ted; Grant, Jason (November 5, 2013). "Garden State Plaza shooting suspect killed self in mall, authorities say".
  4. ^ Westfield Garden State Plaza, International Council of Shopping Centers. Accessed June 6, 2008 shows 2,000,000 ft²
  5. ^ "Shoppers Throng to Opening of Bergen Mall in Jersey". New York Times. November 15, 1957. Retrieved June 7, 2007. The 106-acre Bergen Mall regional shopping center here will open Thursday morning. The center, at which Stern's will be the principal-store, is being built by the Allied Stores Corporation at a cost of $40,000,000. It is at Route 4 and Forest Avenue. 
  6. ^ Ma, Myles (November 29, 2013). "Garden State Plaza addition to include Tory Burch, Microsoft stores". Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  7. ^ Karsian, Dillon. "Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape.", Shopping Center World, May 1, 1999. Accessed October 20, 2007. "Having undergone periodic renovations and expansions since its spring 1957 debut as an open-air center, the property today stands in the superregional class."
  8. ^ "Garden State Shopping Center Due to Open May 1 in Paramus; It Will Be Largest in Jersey --Bergen Mall Being Built Less Than a Mile Away", The New York Times, March 20, 1957. p. 49.
  9. ^ a b Verdon, Joan. "Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus", The Record, July 27, 2008. Accessed July 30, 2008.
  10. ^ a b Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape, Retail Traffic, May 1, 1999
  11. ^ Hill, Jeffrey. "Taken for a Ride: The insanity of escalators", Next American City, Summer 2008. Accessed February 11, 2011. "By contrast, the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, boasts the world’s shortest escalator pair in front of its JCPenney, at a comical height of six steps. Kids play on them while adults use the more practical, non-moving staircases to the left and right."
  12. ^ 26 Wiz Stores Will Be Closed in 2 Months Accessed October 29, 2015.
  13. ^ Karsian, Dillon. "Garden State Plaza Reshaped Landscape", Retail Traffic, May 1, 1999. Accessed February 11, 2011. "In May 1990, Nordstrom debuted in New Jersey by constructing a $37 million, 272,000 sq. ft., three-level store on the former Gimbel's site."
  14. ^ Isadore, Barmash (January 12, 1989). "Lord & Taylor to Bolster Presence in New Jersey". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Gutis, Philip S (November 28, 1987). "The Talk of Garden State Plaza; Scene at Mall in Jersey: Toys, Tinsel and Frenzy". The New York Times. Accessed February 11, 2011. "Mr. Bacon, who took over as general manager after Westfield Inc., an Australia-based developer purchased Garden State Plaza from Macy's last year, said attracting customers to the malls is no real problem. Two million people, he said, live within a 10-mile radius."
  16. ^ Greer, Kimberly (November 7, 1986). "3 Macy's Centers to Be Sold To Australian Company", Newsday. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  17. ^ Verdon, Joan. These aren't your mother's shopping malls, The Record, February 11, 2007.
  18. ^ Gartland, Michael (May 19, 2007). " Epic theater to play its final reel". The Record. Retrieved May 19, 2007.
  19. ^ Paramus Borough Code: Chapter 391: SUNDAY ACTIVITIES, accessed December 18, 2006
  20. ^ "SUNDAY SELLING PLAGUING JERSEY; Local Businesses Pushing Fight Against Activities of Stores on Highways – Other Group Active Local Option Opposed". The New York Times. June 2, 1957. p. 165
  21. ^ Richard Shoop, New Jersey Shooting Suspect, Found Dead. "The Huffington Post". Accessed July 31, 2015.
  22. ^ New Jersey mall gunman found dead hours after shooting- Accessed July 31, 2015.

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