Retailers Get Fast Track to Success If you're thinking this is just another value-based outlet mall, you obviously haven't heard the whole story about Jersey Gardens.
For one thing, Jersey Gardens is big. It boasts more than 200 retailers, including big-box category-killers, manufacturer outlets, off-price concepts, traditional retailers, entertainment and food, all contained within 1.7 million-enclosed sq. ft., earning it the label "New Jersey's Largest Outlet Mall."
It's well located - adjacent to Newark International Airport and a short hop from midtown Manhattan in the midst of one of the most populous and affluent trade areas in the country.
And it's a mall that's designed to give the maximum exposure possible to retailers while ensuring the comfort and convenience of shoppers - thanks to a cutting-edge, two-story racetrack design that will no doubt be copied extensively in the future.
Jersey Gardens is a development of Glimcher Realty Trust, a Columbus, Ohio-based REIT that is a recognized leader in the ownership, management, acquisition and development of enclosed regional and superregional malls, value megamalls and community shopping centers. Including all acquisitions completed through June 30, 1999, Glimcher owns or has a joint venture interest in a total of 125 properties located in 27 states aggregating 30.5 million sq. ft. of GLA. Glimcher Realty Trust's common shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GRT.
Jersey Gardens is one of three Glimcher value-megamall properties. The others are The Great Mall of the Great Plains, in Kansas City/Olathe, Kan., which opened in August 1997; and SuperMall of the Great Northwest in Seattle/Auburn, Wash., which Glimcher acquired in January 1998.
Quite a Site ... Lots of Access Situated along the New Jersey Turnpike in Elizabeth, N.J., in the midst of the massive metropolitan New York City area, Jersey Gardens is uniquely located, according to Glimcher vice president and project manager Dan Devine. "This location puts Jersey Gardens in one of the most exciting markets in the country - one with a taste level and consumption ability that rivals any other market in the nation," he says.
"Midtown Manhattan is less than 15 miles away via automobile," says John P. Hoeller, senior vice president of property management for Glimcher. "Newark International Airport, one of the nation's busiest international airports, where some 30 million people go through the terminal annually, is less than five minutes away." He also points to a healthy tourism/travel component to the Jersey Gardens trade area.
A number of features make Jersey Gardens an extremely accessible place to shop. A reconfiguration of exit 13A off the New Jersey Turnpike - a $140 million project financed by Glimcher - links Jersey Gardens Boulevard, a straight shot into the mall parking lot, with the expressway.
Meanwhile, the five-minute drive from Newark International Airport will soon be improved upon by a light-rail connection with Jersey Gardens that is being developed by the City of Elizabeth. As Devine reports, "Several miles of track linking the mall and the Airport Monorail are already in place, and testing is under way," says Devine. When completed within the next three to five years, the rail will connect Jersey Gardens not only with the airport but also with Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken.
And if there are shoppers who can't get to a train, plane or automobile to make the trip to Jersey Gardens, they can always turn to boats or buses. The Monohulled Ferry will provide a less-than-one-hour waterway link between Jersey Gardens and 38th Street, the World Trade Center and La Guardia Airport. Meanwhile, shuttle busses are available to directly transport shoppers from Manhattan and Newark International Airport to the mall.
Trade Area Demographics "The demographics of the Jersey Gardens trade area are some of the best to be found in the country," says Devine. Within the mall's 70-mile trade area, the population of nearly 21 million has an average household income in excess of $70,000 annually.
The numbers are equally impressive as you move in closer to the mall. According to La Jolla, Calif.-based CACI, a demographics and market analysis firm, some 9.9 million people currently live in 3.8 million households located within a 20-mile radius of Jersey Gardens. The average annual income of these households currently stands at $61,431, according to CACI. Meanwhile, within a 60-mile radius, the population swells to just over 19 million; the households, to just under 7 million; and the average annual household income, to $70,359.
The Tenant Alignment Whether they come from their homes within the trade area or are simply tourists, shoppers will find that the tenant lineup at Jersey Gardens is both extensive and varied. "Jersey Gardens features one of the country's widest selections of value-oriented retailers that can be found under one roof," says Devine. "The unique mix we have created here is the best of any center such as this that has ever been developed."
The anchor retailers of the newest addition to the nation's value megamall scene include a 41,200 sq. ft. Bed Bath & Beyond; an 80,102 sq. ft. Burlington Coat Factory, and the following: COHOES Fashions (58,689 sq. ft.); Cost Less Home Store (21,411 sq. ft.); Daffy's (33,063 sq. ft.); Marshalls Megastore (49,800 sq. ft.); Neiman Marcus Last Call (27,660 sq. ft); OFF 5TH-Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet (30,373 sq. ft); Old Navy, opening spring 2000, (45,344 sq. ft.); and Oshman's SuperSports USA (51,780 sq. ft). In addition, a carefully thought-out lineup of smaller stores complements - and benefits from - this all-star anchor alignment.
The 'Racetrack' Configuration Designed by architect David Rockwell of New York-based The Rockwell Group, Jersey Gardens features a two-story racetrack configuration. "It could well be the first of its type for a newly constructed mall," says Devine.
"Most value-oriented malls have been linear in design, which worked fine until they expanded, expanded and expanded to the point where they got to be about 1.5 miles in length," reports Darrell Pattison, director of design for Cleveland-based KA Inc. Architecture, executive architects on the Jersey Gardens project. "At that point, malls become inhuman in scale," he adds. "You can walk behind shoppers and hear them say things like, 'I can't walk any farther,' once they get halfway through the mall."
This presents quite a problem for retailers in these types of malls, according to Pattison. "Shoppers who are familiar with a mall like this often wind up parking near whatever quarter mile of the mall has the shops they want to visit," he says, "which makes the task of getting people to shop the entire mall very difficult."
Retailers at Jersey Gardens won't have this problem, thanks to the circular racetrack configuration. As Pattison ex-plains, "You essentially have a large 'O' ring shape, with stores on the middle and outside of the ring."
"With the racetrack design, stores get more frontage," asserts Hoeller, "which helps increase their exposure - and ultimately their productivity." Meanwhile, having a large number of stores stacked on a two-story racetrack "means that a shopper doesn't have to walk for a day and a half just to get to from one end of the mall to another."
"Our circular configuration makes it easier to shop the entire complex," concurs Devine. "This is well in keeping with the goal of making the shopper comfortable." Other features that help Jersey Gardens accomplish comfort include full carpeting throughout the mall, escalators at the ends and additional elevator and escalator access to the second floor in the mall's center court.
Meanwhile, in order to bring in a little bit of the Garden State feeling to a mall in what is probably the most industrialized section of New Jersey, The Rockwell Group designed Jersey Gardens with a 50-foot-high garden wall running through the center of the mall. The wall extends into an outdoor topiary and complements a tree-lined road that brings a true garden/oasis feel to shoppers approaching the project.
Entertainment & Food The entertainment lineup at Jersey Gardens is anchored by a 22-screen, 110,421 sq. ft. Loews Theater, slated to open in Spring 2000. The theater will feature stadium-style seating in every auditorium, along with state-of-the-art projection and digital sound, including Sony Dynamic Digital Sound - one of the most advanced cinema sound systems in the marketplace today.
In addition, the theater's concession stands will feature an array of snack items - including gourmet coffee, baked goods, chicken wings, pizza, curly fries and chicken tenders - that complement traditional movie fare.
Other entertainment at Jersey Gardens includes FYE - For Your Entertainment and Jeepers! America's indoor theme park, an attraction featuring amusement park rides, food, arcades, and play areas. Restaurants include a traditional lineup of fast food in the food court along with sit-down restaurants, including Rainforest Cafe, Johnny Rockets, Ruby Tuesday, Asian Islands and Chili's Too. A number of specialty food purveyors, such as Mrs. Field's Cookies, Jersey Ice, Cindy's Cinnamon Rolls and Auntie Anne's Pretzels, also will be available for shoppers.
Added Amenities A long list of unique amenities bolsters the retail/entertainment/food lineup at Jersey Gardens. Tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes is at the top of the list. Other amenities include bus service from Newark International Airport and the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan; complimentary beeper and pager usage for international visitors and tour groups; foreign currency exchange; copy, fax and postage services; lockers; a tourism department; valet parking; complimentary strollers and wheelchairs; and a children's play area.
The mall also features all the niceties that are now considered part and parcel of today's mall scene. These amenities include ATMs, guest service centers, gift certificates, and facilities for providing information about the mall and vicinity in several languages.
The Outlook Located adjacent to the highest revenue-producing IKEA store in North America and in the midst of a concentration of existing retail, the Jersey Gardens value megamall opens in an active, well-established destination for shopping.
Glimcher officials are looking forward to making the most of this great location. "We consider the tenant lineup we've put together to be optimal for this marketplace," says Hoeller. Retailers have responded positively to Jersey Gardens, he adds, with the project 90% leased immediately prior to its October 1999 opening.
Now it's time to see if the marketplace responds equally as well. "We believe that the customer votes through the cash register," says Devine. And when these votes start getting tallied at Jersey Gardens, he adds, "We think we'll wind up with one of the highest-volume shopping centers in the country."
Fun Facts Football Fields Jersey Gardens' 1.7 million sq. ft. of total building area could hold 38 Meadowlands football fields.
Central Park At 93 acres, Jersey Gardens could fit in Central Park nine times.
Empire State Building Builders needed 564 days to construct Jersey Gardens, while the Empire State Building required 410 days.
Manhattan Island The property's 470,000 sq. ft. of electrical conduit could wrap around Manhattan Island three times.
New York's Subway Jersey Gardens' 42 miles of pile foundation is the same length as the New York Subway's track in Queens.
Statue of Liberty The total weight of structural steel in Jersey Gardens is 11 million pounds, or 44 times the weight of the steel in the Statue of Liberty.
Rockefeller Plaza Jersey Gardens has 18,630 light fixtures, while it takes 27,000 lights to decorate Rockefeller Plaza's Christmas tree.