A sprawling retail complex just blocks from the Hudson River once acted as a revitalization catalyst for Downtown Jersey City, but a plan for the neighborhood’s future suggests the three-decades-old facility could be eliminated or repurposed.
Back in 1987, Simon Property Group opened the Newport Mall just off Washington Boulevard. The 41-acre property emerged during an era when much of Newport was still dominated by vacant lots and the remains of an industrial past, but the three-floor facility has evolved with the area over the years.
The mall currently contains about 130 stores anchored by Sears, JC Penney, Macy’s, and Kohl’s. A food court, several restaurants, and an AMC movie theater round out the facility, which is sometimes criticized for cutting off Hamilton Park from the waterfront and vice versa.
Jersey City’s planners have apparently taken note of that complaint and have addressed the issue in their upcoming master plan. The scheme, set to be finalized and released later this year, suggests re-establishing the neighborhood’s historic street grid by extending Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth streets westbound through the mall’s current property.
The master plan draft suggests replacing the mall with mixed-use developments and an image from documents released by Jersey City shows a centrally located green space surrounded by buildings. The draft also mentions the possibility of repurposing portions of the mall as the future of retail continues to evolve.
“Given their size and scale of operations, these areas could leave large portions of the city in a state of neglect if they are not proactively planned to be included within the city’s urban fabric,” the draft states.
The ideas for the Newport Mall in the master plan somewhat mirror the ongoing revamp at Metro Plaza just south of the facility. That property, dominated for several decades by big box retail and surface parking lots, is in the process of being redeveloped into a mixed-use community by Forest City.
Two towers dubbed VYV have already been built at the property, which has future plans for several other high-rises that would be surrounded by a park.
Despite the city’s suggested vision for the Newport Mall, no changes are imminent at the property without the consent and involvement of Simon Property Group. Jersey City, who last initiated a master plan in 2000, is on track to finalize and present their current citywide master plan later this fall.