The Mills at Jersey Gardens, located at 651 Kapkowski Road in Elizabeth, between the New Jersey Turnpike and Ports Newark and Elizabeth, has been attracting shoppers from around the world since opening atop a former landfill in 1999 as ‘Jersey Gardens’, the name still used by many shoppers when referring to it. The mall, which is the only indoor shopping center in Union County, has been owned by Indiana-based Simon Property Group, the owner of 14 other New Jersey plazas, including Jersey City’s Newport Centre, since 2015. It is home to over 200 stores, according to Simon, including Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Off 5th, Century 21, and Last Call by Neiman Marcus.
Now, the latest proposal calls for dramatically increasing that number. According to a legal notice, JG Elizabeth II, LLC has applied to the City for Amended Preliminary and Final Site Plan Approval to expand the two-story mall eastward “with an additional gross building area of 537,119 square feet, which will accommodate 392,251 square feet of gross leasable area.” Should this be completed, the entire mall will contain 1,691,924 square feet of gross leasable area. The expansion is slated to include “new big box stores, restaurants, retail uses, outdoor seating/patio space, an upper level seasonal outdoor dining pavilion, and a new mall entry feature,” according to the notice, and will be connected to the existing part of The Mills at Jersey Gardens near the AMC Loews 20 movie theater.
To accommodate the massive expansion, additional parking has been proposed for the complex. A seven-story parking garage would rise 98 feet from part of an existing surface parking lot, and contain 3,313 parking spaces, leaving 3,946 surface spaces outside. The plan also includes modifications to the roads outside of the mall and a proposed installation of 50-foot light poles.
The proposal was heard by the Elizabeth Planning Board during its meeting on Thursday, April 6th.