Willowbrook Mall; Wayne, New Jersey

Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey

No trip to New Jersey would be complete without at least a few stops in the jungle of freeways and dense suburbia that forms Northern New Jersey. A sprawling, faux-city stretching 50 miles east to west and twice as long north to south, the area is one of the most massive swaths of American suburbia, complete with many large, vintage shopping malls.

Bloomingdale's at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New JerseyWe’ve discussed a few of the malls in Paramus–New Jersey’s undisputed shopping hub–before. Not far to the west, however, lies Wayne, a major retail center of its own. Wayne is home to three enclosed shopping centers, the largest of which is the super-regional Willowbrook Mall, a General Growth Property located at the intersection of US 46, route 23, and interstate 80, just west of Paterson. The mall is the lynchpin of a major retail district that includes, among other things, a lawn ornament store made famous when a power-pop band–Fountains of Wayne–decided to name themselves after it. The 1.5 million square-foot Willowbrook, which is the second-largest mall in New Jersey, is so large that it even spawned its own mini-me in the Wayne Towne Center, a smaller enclosed mall located in its parking lot. Weird!

Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New JerseyWillowbrook opened as a smaller mall anchored by Ohrbach’s and Sears in 1969, and was renovated and expanded in 1970 and 1988. The massive, grand Macy’s store seen here–which was originally constructed as a Bamberger’s–is an especially fine example of 1970s mall architecture, with its dramatic stone-walled facade (it’s too bad I had to photograph it at night). The 200+ store mall is a “T”-shaped, primarily one-level center, but one wing of the “T” (stretching between the center court and Bloomingdale’s) is two levels, and the mall’s grand center court, expansive fountain, and outdoor plazas are gorgeous remnants of another era. For some photos of what the Willowbrook Mall used to look like, check out these great shots (especially this one) at Malls of America.

The Willowbrook Mall today is anchored by Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sears, and Lord & Taylor. Some of the mall’s extreme success hinges off of blue laws in neighboring Bergen County (home of Paramus) that prohibit retail stores from opening on Sundays.

We’ll post about Wayne Towne Center, Willowbrook’s struggling mini-me, shortly Sunday, December 3. These photos were all taken last Monday.

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Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey Macy's at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey

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Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe, PopMatters.com, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

223 thoughts on “Willowbrook Mall; Wayne, New Jersey”

  1. After looking at that original picture from 1973, it’s clear that 30+ years later, the mall has faced sterilization to dull, all-white interior; a typical result to modernized malls who opened in the colorful mallcentric 60s and 70s. Still, while the mall has gotten up with the times (that enterior entrance), there’s plenty of 70’s flare from the archways to the wooden railings to the Bloomingdales interior facade.

  2. Yeah, they definitely went all-white and removed a lot of the planters, plus it’s a shame the way they covered up the tall walls of the cavernous center court with those blasted advertisements (these weren’t even there on my last visit in 2000; I hope they’re temporary). Still, this mall retains a lot of its older flair than most (I think it’s even Victor Gruen-designed? It looks like his style.)

  3. Willowbrook is and always has been my favorite mall. We lived about the same distance from there and Rockaway, and my mom hated Willowbrook, so we only really went there on special occasions. That Macy’s always had so much more to choose from than Rockaway; while Rockaway’s no slouch in terms of square footage, the stores were always smaller and carried less, and the mall as a whole felt like Willowbrook’s kid sister.

    A lot of the reason why Willowbrook remodeled and lost so much of its charm is because of its location. It is located right next to the Passaic River, which floods regularly. When I was in grade school, the river flooded so badly that the news stations were reporting from boats in the parking lot, which turned into a giant lake. My dad worked in Wayne at the time, about a mile from the mall; it took him 4 hours to get home because most of the roads, at some point or another, were underwater. Not sure how much damage was done to the mall, but considering how far inland the floodwaters came and how high they rose, and considering that much of the mall is one huge level (or was, anyway) it couldn’t have gone unscathed. Still, it says a lot abour the mall that it’s monolithic enough to not only survive but become even bigger and stronger. A couple years later, the food court opened, and it looks like a lot more has been added since I left NJ about 11 years ago. Not sure what will happen in the event of another flood, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. 🙁

  4. Also, any word on the state of Wayne Hills Mall these days? As tiny as it was, I liked that mall. Meyer Brothers, the original anchor, used such a prehistoric merch-tagging scheme and mistagged stuff so often that some of the deals I got there bordered on five-finger discounts. I know that was replaced by a Marshall’s or something similar, but that’s all I know.

  5. Comment the third:

    Bloomie’s used to be Stern’s. It was changed over with the mass rebranding several years ago.

    L&T used to be Ohrbach’s, then became Steinbach. I think the final changeover happened in the mid- to late 90s.

  6. I live in Wayne, although I don’t like to go to Willowbrook that much. First, the Wayne Hills Mall has a Burlington Coat Factory, which replaced the Meyer Brothers store in 1996.

    I remember Bloomingdale’s as Stern’s, and Lord and Taylor as Steinbach. Where are the pictures of the Lord and Taylor here? Anyways, it looks like the Lord and Taylor at the Garden State Plaza, no difference, just a bit smaller.

    Willowbrook, is a great mall, no doubt about it. With a strong anchor lineup of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord and Taylor, and Sears, it is always very crowded and all of these stores do good business. The mall is always infested with teenagers hanging out there, so I choose Rockaway to go to most of the time.

    Wayne Town Center has a J.C. Penney, Fortunoff, Loehmann’s, and Daffy’s as its anchors. It also has a Border’s Books. Other than that, the mall is dead, but these stores are big hits. In my opinion, they should de-mall the Wayne Town Center.

    I have pics of Willowbrook. I will be glad to post them 🙂

  7. Here is the Bloomingdale’s as Stern’s.


  8. There’s SiteRide coming through with a completely amazing picture set of just about every tenant in the mall. I wish they had some backlogs for some of my Connecticut malls…

  9. DayGlo:

    You’re in for a treat… A post about Wayne Hills Mall is coming soon. I don’t know much about its history so if you care to fill me in beforehand, email me at the address listed on the “About” page. Thanks!

  10. Caldor, good to hear about an upcoming post on the Wayne Hills Mall. I moved in to Wayne earlier this year, and while I have known the area quite well, I was in for a big treat going to the Wayne Hills Mall. Dead, except for the one side with the Quiznos and Burlington Coat Factory .

    When I lived in Bergen County as a kid, Willowbrook was always the Sunday mall trip. Another interesting thing is the that besides Willowbrook and the Wayne Towne Center, you will find many other smaller strip malls on the outskirts of the ring road. In one place you will find a former Wiz location. Wayne Hills is also surrounded by many smaller strip malls, that seem to do pretty well, including a small Macy*s.

    I think the problem with Wayne Hills is that it is not enough of a destination to work as an enclosed mall. Not enough stores. It would work much better as an outside strip mall.

  11. It feels absolutely surreal (and I mean that in a good way) the first time I see labelscar.com profile a mall that I have visited often.

    Willowbrook is indeed a wonderful mall. However, I am very surprised that it is the second largest mall in New Jersey. In my opinion, both the Rockaway Mall and the Bridgewater Mall (the later of which has three floors), seem bigger than the Willowbrook Mall.

  12. Max,

    To be honest I was somewhat surprised myself, but I didn’t have time to root through the ICSC records to verify the claim. I had always assumed it was Cherry Hill, though in retrospect I guess that Willowbrook is a bit bigger than Cherry Hill.

    Here in Massachusetts, we have some similar situations. Northshore Mall, which is a very old, one-level mall, is technically the largest mall in square footage in all of New England. However, the majority of the mall is just one floor and it only houses around 120 stores, which is not terribly impressive. Most of the square footage is socked away in anchor stores (one of which is nearly 400,000 square feet–and currently vacant), and I’ve found this to be the case with many older malls. They have large anchors but less interior space.

    On the flip side, the three-level Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro is only 1 million square feet, about 600,000 sqft smaller than Northshore Mall, and it holds about 50 more stores. Similarly, the seven-level Providence Place Mall–New England’s newest mall and probably the most impressive one overall–only has about 1.2 or 1.3 million square feet of floorspace for similar reasons.

  13. Concerning the sizes of malls in NJ, it really depends in some cases what metric your compare, and what swath of area you use. I would imagine those that say Willowbrook is large because they probably count the West Belt (excuse me, Wayne Towne Centre Lifestyle Center) in the total calculation. Rockaway is known to be big, and Bridgewater is pretty large, and very neatly organized. However, I think Woodbridge and the Garden State Plaza are in the top two.

    Although I used to do it as a kid taking the bus to the mall, Willowbrook and Wayne TC are not really connectible, unless you eliminated the inner ring road, which is not practical.

    Another tidbit. At one point, in the space between Lord & Taylor and Bloomies there used to be a very small parking garage, but I would barely classify it as that, since it was really only one level if I remember correctly.

    And to throw in one more old time tidbit. Office space for Grand Union was located in the building along the ring road near the current Park & Ride.

    And, the current Ruby Tuesdays used to be a Casey O’Toole’s, a local restaurant. Which actually moved from a smaller location down one of the wings of the mall, losing most of its former character in the transition.

  14. Max —

    I’m pretty sure that the shopping center and other outparcels adjacent to Rockaway are counted in the mall’s gross leasable area, which conveys the impression that it’s bigger (as does the fact that the mall is two full floors instead of that Cherry Hill-esque floor-and-a-half design). Having grown up equidistant from the two, and having spent a great deal of time at both, I can say with some certainty that Rockaway is smaller than Willowbrook. It has about as many stores, but they tend to be smaller than their counterparts in Wayne. (When I was a kid, we always went to Willowbrook for the “big” shopping, like Christmas, my birthday, and back-to-school, because Rockaway never had as much to choose from.) Whether because of its size, which is thoroughly average in a state known for its leviathan malls, or because it’s in the hinterlands of New Jersey suburbia and draws far more from points north and west than anywhere else, Rockaway was always pretty far down the food chain in terms of store merchandising and upgrades. Even Livingston, which is definitely smaller and serves a smaller radius with far more bipolar demographics, seemed to get a better selection of merchandise than Rockaway.

  15. Well, let’s take a look at all the malls in my area

    Willowbrook:Macy’s, Sears, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdale’s
    Rockaway (30 mins away from Wayne): Macy’s, Sears, Lord and Taylor (much larger), J.C. Penney
    Livingston (25 mins away from Wayne): Macy’s, Sears, Lord and Taylor
    Short Hills (30 mins away from Wayne): Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue
    Garden State Plaza (25 mins away from Wayne): Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney
    Paramus Park (30 mins from Wayne): Macy’s, Sears, Fortunoff
    Fashion Center (30 mins from Wayne): Lord and Taylor (155,000 square feet with restaurant, 3 floors), Bed Bath and Beyond, TJ Maxx
    Bergen Mall (30 mins from Wayne): Century 21, Marshalls, Off 5th, Future Target
    Riverside Square (30 mins from Wayne): Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue
    Bridgewater Commons (45 mins from Wayne): Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdale’s

    All the malls in Northern New Jersey are very similar. As you can see, many of these malls have the same anchor stores. Some, like Short Hills, are very upscale, while others, like the Bergen Mall, are discount oriented. This goes to show you how the malls in New Jersey cater to all social classes (wealth).

  16. Can’t forget Menlo Park and Woodbridge Center, which are probably an even better example than GSP and Paramus Park in demonstrating what’s right about mall development in NJ. In each case, two large malls manage to not only coexist but complement each other despite being a few minutes apart and pulling from the same thoroughly retail-saturated trade area. I have yet to see a similar example of that in MD, where countywide government (instead of municipal) has resulted in less control over what is built where. White Marsh and the late Golden Ring probably came the closest. For about 20 years, they had a similarly symbiotic relationship, but traveling the 5 or so miles between them involved crossing an invisible and not quite definable yet distinctly felt socioeconomic class line. White Marsh is in a sought-after, thoroughly middle class area whose fortunes are improving, and it’s surrounded by office buildings, condos, a lifestyle center, and a seemingly limitless array of big boxes. Golden Ring, which is now a big-box center, is in a declining neighborhood whose blue-collar population base has been eroded by several major plant closures and the demolition of a large public housing compex, and the stretch of US 40 it calls home is dotted with sleazy motels and “gentlemen’s clubs.” People who went to one mall generally didn’t frequent the other, and now only one is left.

  17. The SiteRide map shows a big empty spot where Old Navy is now. What did Old Navy replace?

  18. The Old Navy downstairs near Bloomingdales used to be a Woolworth. Willowbrook is a great NJ mall and while the renovations did take away some of its unique architectural aspects (the huge center court fountain, tunnels on the 2nd floor, lowered seating area in center court and midcourt areas on each wing), it has greatly improved…they even attracted the Cheesecake Factory there.

  19. so cool to find this post about willowbrook mall. a couple of things i remember from the 70’s there…there was a store called Smuggler’s Attic that was for all intents and purposes a head shop. they sold all sorts of bongs, pipes, rollling papers, etc. they also stocked candles, incense, groovy plastic decor…it was a teenager’s dream! the theater in the mall (in one of the great pics at mallofamerica blog it’s called Little Theater) showed X-rated (real porn) movies in the mid-to-late 70’s. i feel very nostalgic looking back on the days when you could get drug paraphernelia and porn at the mall 😉

  20. I–along with other people who I have talked to–am actually very surprised that Bloomingdale’s decided to occupy the former Stern’s location, given the fact that this mall is really not an upscale mall (nor is it located in a very upscale area). In fact, the Bloomingdale’s has relatively few people in the store whenever I go in there. The situation at the Willowbrook Mall is in stark contrast to that found at Bridgewater Commons (which had the other Stern’s location that was converted to Bloomingdale’s): Bridgewater has always been an upscale mall which would be a great place to open up a Bloomingdale’s.

    Another thing that I am surprised about is the mall’s former Steinbach store. Specifically, I am surprised that Steinbach decided to close their Willowbrook location–along with their store at Woodbridge Center–a couple of years before the chain went out of business. One would think that the Steinbach stores at Willowbrook and Woodbridge would be among the most successful stores of the chain; therefore, the only reason that makes sense to me (regarding the reason as to why these two locations were closed before the rest of the chain) was that Steinbach simply couldn’t afford the rent at these two successful malls.

    According to Wikipedia, the size of each anchor at Willowbrook Mall is as follows:

    *Macy’s: 369,000 sq. ft.
    *Sears: 279,000 sq. ft.
    *Bloomingdale’s: 278,000 sq. ft.
    *Lord & Taylor: 98,300 sq. ft.

  21. On the contrary, Max, the location of Willowbrook Mall is a fairly affluent one. Wayne itself has some very nice areas and the mall is just over the river from the “West Essex” towns and also the nearest mall to Montclair, Montville and Pompton Plains.

    You are right that Willowbrook has not always had a history of being an upscale mall and in the mid 1990s, Willowbrook was not one of the safest malls in NJ. Growing up, I’ve always liked Willowbrook and am glad for its rebound. As the late 90s came, they tried to attract some small store space after the opening of Lord and Taylor and did get a few stores that one would think would opt for Short Hills instead of Willowbrook. I was surprised at first that Blooomingdales chose Willowbrook, but then fell into the school of thinking it was a good idea. In addition to the area and the upscale trend of the mall, the Willowbrook Bloomingdales would also get many of the Bergen County clientele who can’t go to the Riverside location on Sunday (Blue Laws in Bergen County), as well as those who choose to not deal with the traffic of 4 & 17…I-80 leads directly to Willowbrook. Willowbrook is also 2nd in NJ in terms of economic volume (the 1st being Garden State Plaza, which is closed on Sundays as a result of Blue Laws). When Bloomingdales opened, it allowed for the upscale trend at Willowbrook to continue and eventally helped to attract California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory to the mall.

    It has been a great addition to the mall and while I am disappointed that the decor of Willowbrook is becoming bland (removal of one of the fountains, removal of the floor lights and decorative archways in the mall), I’m glad to see Willowbrook doing so well.

    While I don’t see it happening anytime soon as the mall is doing well enough, I would like to see the 2nd floor of the mall expanded to the rest of the mall….the mall currently has 180 stores and that probably would bring the mall up to having about 230-250 stores.

  22. 2things i don’t like about willowbrook, first the whitewash look. It is to antiseptic-give us some color& those plastic blue benches oi vey!, second when you take the bus as i do the bus stop is in the middle of the lot outside the food court you better watch out for cars coming from all directions, drivers don’t watch were they are going. It can get dicey out there.

  23. I must add the cheese cake factorywhen added to a mall always makes that property a lotstronger longterm

  24. Public areas of the mall, specifically in the Macy’s Court and midcourt area were blocked off for construction…does anyone know what is going on there?

  25. ….i damn near grew up in that mall….my dad ran the radio shack through most of the 80’s. the mall was like a big playground. i just had to leave the store, go out the side entrance, across the small open area and i was in roy rogers. i think the open are was the bus stop if i’m not mistaken….went there again a few years ago, that wing was being remodeled, the radio shack had been moved, but the cookie factory that was on the corner still had it’s brown pipes up on the wall….fun times

  26. Like i sead before they must update willobrook. The white wash look is so unapealing to me, give us collor & i don’t mean blue benches

  27. Better yet AMC should close most of the older Loews theatres & replace them with theatres that have stadium seating like they did at GSP IN Paramus nj. Mind you that the 2 Loews theatres in Secacus are being replaced for that very reason.

  28. Apprarently they’re doing a lot of exterior renovation of the mall and most of it is tying in with the Spaghetti Bowl/46-23-80 renovation.

    The midcourt area between Macy’s and Center Court still looks to be under construction…tiles were stripped and it looks like they’re doing something with utilities. With the upscale turn Willowbrook has been making in recent years, I would not be surpised to see those steel blue and white seat-benches replaced by soft seating areas (they actually took a lot of those benches out when they pulled up the floor lights) like has been done in Menlo Park and Garden State Plaza (Rockaway Townsquare and Livingston Mall are also adding them along with other cosmetic features).

    I still would love to see the 2nd floor expand to the rest of the mall. As I stated above, it could happen, but I don’t believe it will.

  29. Yes! Somebody agrees with me regarding a Willowbrook expansion. Thanks Sean! Unlike making Monmouth or Cherry Hill a full two level mall, no lower level floors have to be redone as a result of the fact that Willowbrook does not split like those two do. As a result, this would probably be a less expensive venture. The entrace on the 46 side of Macy’s/Sears could be made into a “2 Level Grand Entrance/Valet area” (and it’s straight ahead from the 46 east entrance) and the number of stores would very much increase. As I had stated in the Wayne Town Center section, Wayne Town Center needs to focus on entertainment anchors and both malls should work cooperatively to build a lifestyle Promenade between Macy’s and Fortunoff. With this setup, both malls would proper (and make Garden State Plaza and Palisades Center very, very nervous).

  30. Mallguuy; what about the Loews theatre? What is the point of having a cinema on Willowbrook Boulevard when you “can’t get there from here.” I’m sure you know what i’m getting at.

    Sounds like Menlo Park when i braught it up on the Freehold Raceway page with it’s cineplex issues.

    Should they move the theatre to Willowbrook or Wayne Town Center?

    As far as expantion of the 2nd level to the rest of the mall goes; i thaught this mall was owned by General Growth. There is no real growth to speak of. Lets get moving on this asap.

  31. Sean,

    I had previously commented on this a little bit under the Wayne Town Center area and the Loews should go over to Wayne Town Center to revive it. That theater on Willowbrook Blvd is a mess and definitely needs to be replaced. As I had said in that post, keep Fortunoff, Borders and JCPenney there (that is actually a pretty large JCPenney), but focus it on entertainment anchors and tennants. Have a lifestyle promenade between Macy’s and Fortunoff and keep Willowbrook focused on fashion. If they wanted to, there is still room to build out Willowbrook in the rear the mall, going out from the Bloomingdale’s midcourt area. Will they? I don’t think so, but it wouldn’t hurt. It can further cash in on its location and the fact that it’s the closest mall still in NJ to Bergen County that is not closed on Sundays as a result of Blue Laws.

  32. If you did the expantion the way you wanted to between Willowbrook & Wayne town center what retailers would you add.

    Here is my list;

    1. Borders 2. P F Changs 3. Fox Sports grill 4. Best buy or another big box that fits

    Your thaughts.

  33. Forget about borders, sub in Smith & Hawken instead.

    I sould have doubled checked your last post.


  34. Sean,

    I could see Smith and Hawken…closest one is Westfield, I believe. I agree with your restaurant choices. Gotta also go with Champp’s, Maggiano’s, Apple, Crate and Barrel, Panera, Anthropolgie, to name a few…in a re-vamped Wayne Town Center, add Dave and Busters, Lucky Strike Lanes, Dicks, a new Loews with IMAX…again, WTC entertainment oriented, Willowbrook fashion oriented and the lifestyle promenade in between to connect…this setup will give both Garden State Plaza AND Palisades Center a run for their money.

  35. How about adding circuit city by moving it from rt 46.

    I like your choices of retail aditions, lets focus on lifestyle elements.

    Please we must do something about the parking & roadwayn circulation, it doesn’t work the way it is now. Structures aren’t enough as you already know.. The whole setup must be overhalled.

  36. Mallguy,

    you are making me hungry.

  37. Electronics Expo is adjacent to Willowbrook and Wayne Town Center in the adjacent power center with Costco and Sports Authority. That EE is a 2 level location (the old Wiz) and I don’t see them leaving that location anytime soon, but who knows.

  38. Was electronics expo on Old Country Road in Westbury at one time? If so i had no idea that EE was stil in business. The Westbury location was close to were Best Buy is now, if not just behind that, were TARGET stands on Corporate Drive.

    I think

  39. Never mind i went to their site, it’s not the same store i was thinking of.

    What was that mega store that had a location in Westbury? It was owned by radio shack & only lasted a few years. I think they had one also outside Seattle.

  40. I grew up in the area south of Willowbrook Mall. I have been there numerous times in my life and I was just there today. I must say that after looking at the mall again today, Willowbrook is a very nice mall. Compared with the GSP, its holds up against that competition. But I would recommend that Willowbrook add a second level onto the Macy’s wing. There they can put stores that GSP has, such as Lacoste and Apple. They can add at least 35 more stores. Also, they should connect Macy’s to Fortunoff’s- this would help bring more business to the Wayne Towne Center. And the Wayne Towne Center should also put better stores or restaurants into it, such as Legal Seafoods, the Grand Luxe Cafe, and a steakhouse. This would put Willowbrook Mall at the top.

  41. I wonder…does the fact that Willowbrook & Wayne TC are in a flood zone-the reason why the 2 malls are not joining forces like they should?

  42. They are owned by different owners and the owners unfortunately don’t want to pool their resources to benefit the malls, the area community and the area economy.

  43. Does anyone remember a teen/juniors clothing store that was on the second floor of the Willowbrook Mall in the late 70s. It was separated in a way between casual, hip clothes and psuedo professional. It was my favorite store when I was a teen and I now have a minor obsession with remembering the stores name. help, please

  44. Willowbrook had all the 80s type stores (Merry Go Round, Chess King, Rogers Clothes, Sids Pants, etc), but I’m not sure about the store you’re takling about, Mary.

    On another note, the Holiday decorations at Willowbrook this year look great! Not exactly what they were in the 1990s, but much better than they’ve been this decade. Large poinsetta tree on the fountain, lights in center court, new Santa area with a large Christmas tree in the Bloomingdale’s midcourt and new hanging poinsettias with lights hanging off.

  45. lol i cant believe i found this online..i worked in willowbrook food court while in high school now i work in another retail store while in college, lol i love the mall, its much better than garden state and have really good stores

  46. Mary ~ Was that store Marianne’s or Stuart’s?

  47. Or maybe Joyce Leslie or Easy Pickins?

  48. Macy’s in Willowbrook is one of the stores that has been selected by its parent company to be open continuously until Christmas Eve. If anyone reading has gone, feel free to report back on how the late night shopping expereince went.

  49. Does anyone remember the organ store that was located originally upstairs in the willowbrook mall near (then) sterns? I believe it was gene hale organ and piano co. They then relocated in the later 80’s downstairs before going out of that mall and moving to rockaway mall in dover mall NJ.

  50. I think it was Hale…they were also in Woodbridge Center back in the 1980s and I always remember that someone who worked there would always be playing on one of the organs (and playing well) at the front of the store…you’d be able to hear it through the entire wing.

  51. I remember the organ store vaguely. I also remember there was a music store that carried an assortment of instruments but I don’t recall if it was the same store or not. I remember going there in the mid 90’s and asking to try out a guitar and the guy there snubbed me and said no cause I was 15 at the time. Jerk.

  52. I think I remember the music store, possibly on the other side of the mall. I believe hale organs only sold organs and mabye a few pianos with some sheet music. Although I played sax at the time I did not have much interest in the music store.

  53. I totally remember the Organ store it was right near where friendlys’ used to be. LIke 10 years ago when I used to “mallrat” around , I used to talk to those folks at that store, and always wondered what happened to that place.
    Anyone Remember the store “Screem” , it used to have live dj and sometimes bands during the late 90’s?

  54. i love the willowbrook mall, it has always been my favorite. i went the other day to discover that they removed native art! it was located upstairs by bloomingdales. i was so upset, i loved that store. also, they moved claire’s and took out FYE. i wish the mall still looked like it did in the 70’s. wish i was alive back then to see that..

  55. Quote “i wish the mall still looked like it did in the 70’s. wish i was alive back then to see that” Although I was alive during those times, I wish the mall and its stores stayed the way it was in the 80’s.. Such great memories

  56. The other day, I was noticing there are a lot of empty store fronts at Willowbrook. I don’t think that’s necessarily a sign of bad things to come, but I am surpised that those spaces haven’t yet been leased. It will be interesting to see what goes in there and also if Willowbrook continues on its upscale trend.

  57. I saw the same thing at Garden State Plaza yesturday, this store turnover cycle is going to be more noticeable than in past years. I read something on this not to long ago. If they can atract Short Hills/GSP type stores things may turn out OK, but it will take more time than usual to fill those spaces.

    Mallguy, since we’re on that subject, what is going on With Forever XXI at GSP? Borders has been open for a year, on the construction wall it still says comeing soon & the phone number is on the directory.

  58. Sean,

    I was up there not too long ago and I saw that it’s still vacant…too bad they didn’t convert that space into Dave and Busters.

    I was actually having a discussion about Willowbrook with a friend of mine not too long ago. Willowbrook in the late 80s-early 90s had gone through some very hard times…not attracting great stores and having a lot of problems with crime/safety issues. The mall began to turn around in the late 1990s with Lord and Taylor and eventually was able to attract stores like Bloomingdale’s, The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen and JCrew. It’s now at that crossroads again with the slower pace to replace the vacant stores, as well as the fact there is now a tattoo shop in the mall (that replaced Lindt…on the Bloomingdale’s wing, no doubt) where you can stand by the window and watch people get inked. Hopefully Willowbrook will be able to get back to strength and attract some more great stores.

  59. Mallguy,

    did i hear that right? A tattoo shop? Who are the marketing director & manager over there. I would like to know who is making the executive dessisions, because bringing in a tattoo place is not the way to atract higher income shoppers.

    I can just see it now, a family from Montclair with a shopping list.

    1. lunch at Cheesecake Factory
    2. sale at Bloomingdales
    3. 14-year old,mom can i get tattooed?

    What is wrong with that picture.

  60. Sean,

    The name of the store is Tattoo Nation. Personally, I think the maketing director/manager is psycho and even though they may think tattoos have mainstreamed, it’s still a really, really bad idea to put a place like this in a mall that likes to think of itself as trending upscale. And when I’ve gone past the place, most people I see getting inked aren’t your stereotypical bikers, but instead look like they could live in any one of Willowbrook’s surrounding wealthy communities.

    I think that GGP needs to replace Willowbrook’s Marketing Manager. The mall is definitely at a crossroads again and we’ll see which way it goes. Hopefully, they’ll be able to attract some big names like Apple, Armani Exchange and Ruehl into the vacant spaces.

  61. The fact that you don’t have Apple, A F & a few of the upscale basic retailers, but you do have Tattoo Nation, near Bloomingdale’s no less shows that they don’t have any clue what stores an upscale mall should contain.

    It’s time to clean house & bring some better people in who will evict those stores that will dammage Willowbrooks reputation of being a mall on the same level as GSP OR Menlo Park. Otherwise dollars will travel to the east & south across the Pasaic River.

  62. I heard Gilly Hicks is coming downstairs. As well as Ruehl.

  63. I dunno, Sean. I kind of like malls that trend from really downscale to really upscale. The right kind of downscale stores are kind of cool for a cheapskate like me, selling cheap clothes and unique stuff for a mall.

  64. I didn’t mean getting rid of the H & M’s of the world, just those stores that don’t mesh in the right way. TattooNation pared with Bloomingdale’s is a good example of this. Although a good mall could have a cheep store that fits in bnicely, that sell a wide veriety of products, candy & drinks.

  65. I didn’t mean H&M when I said “cheap clothing”. We’re talking untrendy clothing, something like solid-colored shirts from Fruit of the Loom, the random discount stores you wish to avoid. Furthermore, the “cheep store” that you say fits in is more than just a Target (though Target is pretty handy) I am referring more to unique gift stores. If done correctly, “mom and pop” stores can be great for a mall. In my mall, there are a number of decent local stores including a smoothie store (been there since forever!), a Christian bookstore (sells other stuff too!), a rug store, and the obligatory Texas gift store (selling books and spices). In the past, it had a Build-a-Bear knockoff, a wrestling goods store, a store selling exclusively flags, and other stuff. In this sense, the mall will be better than a flea market for offering a vast selection of goods. Remember when malls weren’t exclusively jewelry and clothing stores? I don’t.

  66. Mallguy,

    Too funny that I made the same observation too about all the vacant stores at Willowbrook when I was there a few weeks ago. I thought Willowbrook was over the hump when it added Cheesecake Factory, CPK, J. Crew, and most recently BCBG. Why aren’t there coming soon signs up? They need Apple, Armani Exchange, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Z Gallerie, Ruehl. I’ve emailed the manager and filled out suggestion cards and the manager basically says to check the website for upcoming stores. I hope these vacancies are worth the wait…if anyone know anything about new stores opening there post it please! Willowbrook is the state’s 2nd busiest mall, behind Garden State Plaza and can handle more upscale stores. Start complementing Bloomingdale’s hallway with better stores already! Old Navy needs to move down by Sears too.

  67. Jacquie:

    I’m with you! I totally thought that Bloomindale’s would help Willowbrook more firmly cross the upscale threshold, but they may not be there yet. That’s great you’ve made your voice heard through the emails and such. I’ve also noticed the Bloomingdales wing is having a lot of problems getting upscale stores and it’s a little strange to me since Bloomie’s and Lord and Taylor are in the same wing…go figure. Old Navy could defintely fit in where the Sears wing FYE and other stores used to be since a block of them are still vacant. So much potential there and the fact that it’s open on Sundays (as opposed to all the nearby Paramus/Bergen County malls) tells me that it’s no surpise Willowbrook is the 2nd busiest mall in NJ.

    Garden State Plaza actually perfects the act of putting upscale stores in a certain zone of the mall and more midpriced stores in another area. For example, Juicy Coture, Michael Kors, Ruehl and Louis Vuitton are all near Neiman Marcus and the more midpriced stores are near Macy’s and JCPenney.

  68. The big difference is that GSP is well ballenced with stores at all price points, but Willowbrook is trying to go upscale with an inballence of stores in the middle, Bloomingdales just is not enough to bring in high income shoppers.

    Besides if you want upscale stores & you live in that area it is very easy to drive to The Mall @ Short Hills & not have to deal with the roads around Willowbrook.

  69. I was thinking, how does Xanadu play against both Paramus & Wayne? Xanadu is closer to Willowbrook Than Paramus wich may partially insolate it from the full effect of the impact of Xanadu’s draw.

    The effect on Paramus won’t be zero, but it will be lesser than what Willowbrook is going to feal. I think we left that part out of the equasion& the signs of stress ar beginning to show.

    We brought this up on the Nanuet thred with Palisades Center & the Paramus malls in the picture, but it bears repeating because what happend to Nanuet could happen to Willowbrook as well. Willowbrook maybe second in sales vollume, but it may become first in perscriptions for valium. LOL,


  70. Sean:

    Interesting thoughts, but I do not feel that Xanadu will have a very large effect on Willowbrook Mall. When you look at trade areas of the two (Garden State Plaza and Willowbrook), Xanadu is more clearly in GSP’s trade area and also the same county. Willowbrook actually gets many shoppers from northwest and eastern Morris County, southeast Sussex (these three areas also go to Rockaway Townsquare, but Willowbrook has some stores Rockaway does not) and northern Passaic County in addition to Essex, Bergen and southern Passaic. The Paramus malls are all trying to compenstate now, or have already done so, for the upcoming opening of Xanadu.

    Willowbrook has a couple of problems right now; one being its marketing team having trouble finding Willowbrook’s true identity (the additional ‘whitewash’ that the mall got two years ago really didn’t help), two being the area roadways. Route 46 is constantly under construction and within the year when the 46/23/80 interchange will be complete, as well as the 46/Union Blvd, that problem may be solved (NJ still forgot to put the missing link into it when they did not give 23/46 west access from 80 east). If Willowbrook really wants to solve the first problem, they should consider making the entire mall 2 floors…the mall is pretty massive as is and this will make it even bigger, attracting more big names. It will be these two things more so than Xanadu that will hurt Willowbrook Mall in the future.

  71. Mallguy,

    Everything you said in your last post is true, but without the Cheesecake Factory & California Pizza Kitchen Willowbrook just isn’t the regional draw that Garden State Plaza is & what Xanadu is projected to be. Although sales volumes are second to GSP, will that remain the case after Xanadu opens? I won’t venture a guess yet, but we’ll all find out shortly.

    What is the vacancy rate, is it over 15%?

  72. The Cheesecake Factory there is like a pickle out of place. It’s just an odd out of the mall. It looks so different than the mall. They need a Ruehl, Gilly Hicks, H&M, Lucky Brand Jeans, Chico’s, Soma, Metropark, Illuminations, Diesel, Fossil, Aerie, and more to draw more shoppers, even though they have alot.They rlly should expand level 2!

  73. Maybe even American Apparel, and Urban Outfitters

  74. Email your suggestions to: nancy.barbary@ggp.com She’s the manager of Willowbrook. I think I’ve requested all those to her already, maybe if we inundate them with enough emails, eventually they’ll listen to us! Heck, tell your friends to do it to! I’m really hopeful that these vacancies will be filled by stores that we want and not another tattoo shop! I’d hate to see Willowbrook lose stores to Xanadu, I only live 5 minutes away! The suspense as to what will fill these slots is killing me!

  75. Guys, I think it’s important to note that I’m sure Willowbrook would love to have those stores, but many retailers (including many of the ones you’ve identified) are not necessarily in a full-on expansion mode right now given the economy, and may or may not even be interested in Willowbrook if they were. If every mall could be successful as a result of a leasing manager who is aware of new retailers in the marketplace (and I’m positive she’s heard of Ruehl, et. al) then we wouldn’t have dead malls in the first place.

    This is a far more complex situation than you seem to think; if it was as easy as saying “you should call Ruehl and ask them to open” then I’m sure it would’ve been done a long time ago.

  76. Caldor,

    What you said about the econemy is spot on,but there is another issue that’s being raised here by menny that you misunderstand. Some of us believe one way or another that there may be a problem at Willowbrook. To what extent that problem exists with retailers or with managements ability to atract good stores is an”unknowable unknowable” right now.

    The examination in the posts above is not just a recognission & reflection of this problem, but a means of trying to solve it. Who stays, who goes, what stores move around from one location to another & what new stores are added is just part of this evaluation. You cant just assume that the management team knows what they are doing. I have sene this first hand, so i know what i’m talking about.

  77. About time! Let’s hope this is the start of the vacancy rate fall at Willowbrook.

  78. Apple is excellent news! If only we knew what were filling in the other 10 or so slots at the mall! Kepp posting if you hear anything. Hopefully all of this waiting means they are really trying to get a good lineup, I really can’t recall a time when Willowbrook had so much available space. A closing store is usually covered with drywall and a coming soon sign within a couple days of closing.

  79. ruehl isn’t opening any more stores until the end of 2008, when abercrombie and fitch will either decide A) shut the brand down altogether and invest more in expanding gilly hicks, or B) continue to open more ruehl stores….it depends on how they do, because company wide, ruehl stores don’t do a lot of business and they cost A LOT to build.

  80. According to several websites – this is what is scheduled to open at Willowbrook in 2008/2009.

    Forever 21 (to open next to Hallmark)
    Ruehl No.925 (to open next to Champs Sports)
    Urban Outfitters (to open next to J.Crew)
    Gloria Jeans (to open next to J. Crew, former Burger King spot)
    and last but not least, Apple which the location is unknown as of yet.

  81. Add another one to the list: H&M…next to Bloomingdale’s upstairs. Seems like a small space for H&M, but there was an small occupancy listing on the storefront.

  82. does anyone know where the fun and games arcade that was once a willowbrook reopened, or if it really did reopen at wayne hills mall

  83. H&M, and Ruehl are opening! REALLY?

  84. These are great developments for Willowbrook and will hopefully attract even more retailers. Ruehl is also examining the prospect of Menlo Park and Newport Centre…Willowbrook is also a great choice! Maybe now they have turned the path from “Tattoo Nation.” Now they need some more stores to close in the vacancies in the Bloomingdale’s wing, Willowbrook is also getting a Shrimp Market in the food court.

  85. I went to Willowbrook yesterday…..

    Bloomie’s has a GREAT sale, so does A&F.

    H&M looks huge, it takes up a lot of space. They’re pry gonna get rid of the storage in the space.

    Apple, I didn’t check. I actually didn’t go past A&F in the Macy*s wing.

    XXI & the new Limited Too are still being worked on.

    PET POURRI closed! 🙁

    The new Payless is nice.

    That’s it.

  86. As I said many posts back, it will just take some time to work things out. Now how about evicting the tatoo shop near Bloomingdales.

  87. Was looking for a new job and saw that Metropark is hiring for new stores opening at Willowbrook and Garden State Plaza. Another good addition to the mall. Hopefully Armani Exchange, Anthropologie, and Diesel are no far behind!

  88. I visited Willowbrook on June 2nd for the first time since February or so, and already I can see great changes taking place. I live in Manhattan but have parents/family in the Packanack Lake section of Wayne. Whenever I’m tired of walking SoHo to do shopping I’ll take a bus to Willowbrook Mall (usually takes no longer than 20 minutes from Port Authority) and shop there. Glad to see all these new stores finally.

  89. Soo basically besides XXI, H&M, Apple, and LToo, new stores are………


  90. Yes, I was there on Saturday, the old Delia’s, Eddie Bauer, Pawsenclaws, and the space between Bloomingdale’s and American Eagle Outfitters are sheetrocked over but nothing is labeled as to what stores are opening there. The only space marked is in the Sears wing where Fye, KB, Hallmark, and old Claire’s were…that says coming soon XXI Forever and Limited Too. The Bath & Bodyworks by Macys is empty, and Quails has set up again in the old Bombay location. The Basket store next to Bloomingdales is empty and they are now where Signature Shoes/Chocolate Blu was. And of course the Willowbrook website says nothing. I don’t get it.

  91. Yes, I was there on Saturday, the old Delia’s, Eddie Bauer, Pawsenclaws, and the space between Bloomingdale’s and American Eagle Outfitters are sheetrocked over but nothing is labeled as to what stores are opening there. The only space marked is in the Sears wing where Fye, KB, Hallmark, and old Claire’s were…that says coming soon XXI Forever and Limited Too. The Bath & Bodyworks by Macys is empty, and Quails has set up again in the old Bombay location. The Basket store next to Bloomingdales is empty and they are now where Signature Shoes/Chocolate Blu was. And of course the Willowbrook website says nothing. I don’t get it.

  92. Willowbrook website has been updated, a new store that I’ve never heard of called Love Culture is apparently opening also.

  93. The lease plan was updated with Metropark, Apple, XXI Forever, and H&M.

  94. **Although new stores are opening in the willowbrook mall, many stores that currently have leases are struggling. A number of stores cannot afford the rent and not resigning the leases. Because of this many empty spaces are available around the mall. Stores are trying to take on a new look, and relocated to higher traffic locations in the mall taking on the empty locations. This is why stores seem to be swapping around. Delia’s is now located upstairs because mid January Wet seal did not resign there lease because of lack profit. One company kept their location but changed the name of the store. The old G & G is now called Parallel, which is located next to BEBE SPORT. A few other stores will be leaving the mall, and in lue Apple, Forever 21,H &M and a few others stores will be opening.

  95. Abercrombie & Fitch is opening at Newport Centre this winter, but idk about Ruehl. Maybe they’ll switch to Willowbrook?

  96. Just like how Danbury Fair Mall & Freehold Raceway Mall are both owned by Macerich, but they look the same.

  97. True, but the Willowbrook Mall in Houston was never owned by Rouse. The names the same, but that’s it.

  98. I grew up in the area and I remember it pre-mall. There used to be an outdoor ice skating rink called “Willowbrook”, where my friends and I would skate on Friday nights. This was in the early to mid 60’s. The first department store to be built was Bambergers, then I believe Sears, Sterns and Orbachs. Brand spanking new, it definitely was the place to hang out with friends. I remember the record store where I bought so many albums, but can’t recall the name of it – it was near Sears. There were more smaller boutique stores there as I recall. I moved away, but when I return occasionally, I run in, and out straight away. But I still see the “mall people”, just hanging out. Rather sad. The best news I’ve heard about Willowbrook is that horrible pet store (Petpourri?) finally closed. You know, the one that sold puppy mills pups. And good riddance!

  99. Apple looks to open within the coming weeks…the drywall coming soon sign is down and the storefront is visible. All the stores that have been announced should be open before the holidays.

  100. Unfortunately, Tattoo Nation is stil there. Metropark is now open and Forever 21 is opening soon…looks to be a big store.

  101. They need American Apparel & Urban Outfitters here.

  102. The Apple store opens tomorrow. Walked past it today and it is huge! Also the new H&M and XXI Forever are huge!

  103. The H & M is gigantic…much better selection than at Garden State Plaza! I hadn’t been to Willowbrook in a couple months so was expecting some big news when I got there…to my surprise, still no other new store announcements…what is going on here? The same stores that were vacant months ago are still empty and not even drywalled! If Newport Centre can get Armani Exchange and Ruehl, Willowbrook should be able to. Plus what about adding another restaurant by Cheesecake Factory where the old Burger King was! Has anyone heard anything about new stores?

  104. Jacquie:

    Apple at Willowbrook is now open and it, too is huge. I did notice the size of H&M. Willowbrook now also has Metropark and will soon have a very large XXI Forever. I do agree that there is the potential for additional “good” stores in the mall and hopefully, we’ll see a further cleanup of the upper level Bloomingdale’s wing, as well as the Macy’s wing. Last trip, I did notice that what was supposed to be Gloria Jean’s (the old Burger King), is now going to be merged into the space of the store that will soon occupy the former Bombay space (don’t remember the name of the store, but it’s something I hadn’t heard of.)

  105. Mallguy-

    I did check out the new Apple and Metropark too, both good additions to the mall. That other store you are thinking of is Love Culture…no idea what that is. I know the economy isn’t exactly great, but I just don’t understand why the other slots in the mall aren’t filled yet. The old Pet Pourri, Sprint, a section of fye by XXI Forever, Wilsons Leather, old Limited too(Quails now). And I still don’t understand why the mall management office is in an actual store location, I think that’s a huge waste of a retailopportunity. I actually emailed the manager and asked what new stores would be coming to the mall in the future, and all I got was the list of stores that we just mentioned that are already open. So I’ll assume they haven’t signed any leases yet. And I remember when the added Cheesecake Factory readng that they were going to add several restaurant options…still waiting for those to show up! Meanwhile they’re building Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden next door, Willowbrook needs to get more aggressive, it’s got incredible potential, just can’t seem to get completely over the hump…and that Tattoo Nation is an embarrassment! I want to know what’s opening or what they are trying to get to open! Anything we can do?

  106. Here is some info on Love Culture, soon to open up in the former Bombay space at Willowbrook Mall. Looks as if they will go head to head with Zara and XXI Forever.

    I totally agree, Jacquie, that Willowbrook needs to be more agressive. The potential is definitely being wasted. I also find it interesting that the Mall Management office is a storefront and I think it was that way becuase there was a time they were having trouble filling stores in the Upper Level of the Bloomingdales wing (and to be honest, that whole side between Bloomie’s and the midcourt needs work). I also agree with you on Tatoo Nation, but apparently, the place has been busy the last few times I’ve been to the mall and walked past it.

    I would love to see more restaurant space in the mall itself too.

  107. Thanks for the info on Love Culture, I’m anxious to see what the store has to offer when it opens. I was hoping for another restaurant by Cheesecake Factory, but I guess that’s not happening…

    Maybe the mall needs to be renovated or something, it just seems like it’s in a stagnant phase, and I’d hate to see it lose customers to Xanadu. I’m not a mall manager, but to me it would make sense to make the Sears wing more affordable stores, Macys wing the mid-market stores, and Bloomingdales wing the trendy mid and upscale stores, and have restaurants on both sides of the entrances. I can get over the fact that they have the Tattoo Nation store, but by Lord & Taylor really doesn’t make sense! And I still despise the fact that Old Navy is located next to Bloomingdales, when it should be by Sears. I forgot the old Fun N Games is still empty too, either make that a restaurant or move the management office there. Lets recruit Anthropologie, Armani Exchange, Pottery Barn, Club Moncao, etc and put them by Bloomiongdales! Even moving J.Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor over there would make that wing better. I assumed that when Bloomingdales moved in that wing would get better, and it seems to have remained the same…at least H &M is trendy and stylish!

  108. I don’t know why they have Mandee still. The location is perfect for Who.A.U

  109. Big article on Plain Vanilla Shell today on north Jersey malls & the new foregn retailers comeing in. In particular GSP is noted with a half dozen new store openings, such as Canadian retailer Garage.


  110. Sean,

    Could you please provide the link?


    You have a lot of good ideas for stores at Willowbrook. All of those would work well. There definitely should be more dining opportunities at the mall and considering that Borders at WTC had recently closed and the West Paterson Barnes and Noble is a disgrace, Willowbrook is in dire need of a large bookstore. I also like your idea for lifesyle leasing…this was done in Bridgewater Commons when it first opened…the 1st floor, aka, ‘The Commons Collection’ was where the upscale stores were located, the 2nd floor, aka ‘The Promenade,’ was where the family oriented stores were located and the 3rd floor, aka ‘The Campus Level’ was where the stores for teenagers and 20 somethings where located. It worked for a while, but it all turned into hodgepodge…and now Bridgewater Commons is aiming for the upscale comsumer.

    I doubt they’d do it, but a little further up in the thread, I advocated for an expansion to make all of Willowbrook Mall two floors. It’s already a good mall, but doing this would make Willowbrook great. On the upcoming Xanadu opening, I don’t think that Willowbrook has as much to lose as do the Paramus area malls. Willowbrook is a little farther away from the Meadowlands than are the Paramus area malls…and the fact of the matter is that is can be quite challenging dealing with the traffic to get to Willowbrook from points east. It is for this reason that all of the Paramus Area malls have had some sort of expansion in the past few years since they will feel a direct effect being that they are only 6 miles up Route 17 from the Meadowlands.

  111. http://www.plainvanillashell.com


    The story comes from the Bergen Reccord.

    I have to disagree with you on one point, although Paramus is only 6 miles from Xanadu, Willowbrook’s market area isn’t as stable as the Paramus trade area is. Both areas will bleed some stores, but Willowbrook is more likely to hemmerage Then Garden State Plaza. Why are stores continuesly choosing GSP & filling empty space, while empty stores remain empty at Willowbrook? Well at least Tattoo Nation is doing a brisk business. LOL

  112. Mallguy,

    Here is the article.

    Retail Invasion ; Foreign Stores Look for U.S. Foothold in North Jersey Malls


    September 28, 2008

    Attention mall shoppers: The Russians are coming. And the South Koreans. And the Canadians.

    Foreign retailers looking to establish beachheads in the U.S. mall market have picked North Jersey as the perfect landing site. And shopping centers in
    North Jersey and elsewhere are welcoming these new tenants with open arms.

    As American specialty retailers retrench in the face of a soft economy, foreign merchants see new opportunities in this country by taking advantage of a
    weak dollar to expand. Mall owners are looking to fill space and are eager to have new retailers that set their properties apart from the competition.

    Retailers with headquarters in Seoul and Moscow are targeting one North Jersey mall in particular as a good starting point for an American invasion. This
    fall, Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus is welcoming five foreign retailers.

    Three of those retailers — Kira Plastinina from Russia, Garage from Canada, and South Korea’s Who.A.U.– sell fashions for teens, and representatives said
    the Plaza is known worldwide as a mall that draws lots of teen shoppers. The shopping center rings up sales per square foot in excess of $670, almost double
    the national average, and is surrounded by more than 2 million shoppers, with average household incomes of $81,000, according to the Directory of Major

    “It’s got unbelievable demographics, it’s a very high-performing mall,” said Anna Martini, president of Groupe Dynamite Inc., the Montreal-based parent
    company of Garage, an apparel retail chain that caters to teenage girls. A Garage store is scheduled to open at the Plaza on Oct. 30.

    “Garden State Plaza is clearly the No. 1 mall for the youth- purchasing-customer in the country as far as we’re concerned,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman
    of the retail-leasing and sales division of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate and the exclusive leasing representative for South Korean chain Who.A.U.
    Consolo said the Plaza was Who.A.U.’s top choice when it committed to a U.S. launch, after testing the waters with a “quiet opening” at Stamford Town Center
    in Connecticut.

    Global economics and retail upheaval in the United States make this an attractive time for foreign retail expansions, said Ira Kalish, director of consumer
    business at Deloitte Research. “In the last few years, the dollar has been very cheap, so American assets have been relatively cheap for foreigners to
    acquire,” Kalish said. “So investing here is not as expensive as it would have been a few years ago.” The dollar reached $1.6038 against the euro on July
    15, the weakest level since the European currency debuted in 1999.

    The current turmoil in the specialty apparel market, Kalish added, has foreign companies thinking “there’s an opportunity here to come and grab some market

    Mall owners are facing an average vacancy rate nationwide of 7.6 percent, according to real estate research firm CoStar Group.

    Another factor, Kalish said, is that for companies that have saturated their home markets, “the U.S. looks like a very attractive growth market, even though
    it’s probably not as attractive as we’d like it to be right now.”

    Martini of Montreal-based Garage said that factor plays a big part in the chain’s decision to move into American malls. “We have 150 Garage stores in Canada,
    so we’re pretty much saturated in terms of our expansion in Canada,” she said. “We’re basically in 100 percent of the big regional malls here,” she said
    in a telephone interview from Montreal.

    Garage locations are designed with the teen girl in mind — lounge areas with comfy chairs and sofas, candy jars, and “Radio Garage” playing over the speakers.
    Radio Garage is music playlists created specially for the stores, with current power-pop and hip- hop hits like “Drive My Soul” by Lights and “Heartbreaker”
    by will.i.am. Garage creates its stores with a prototype teen girl in mind – they call her “Alexia” and “she’s 16, she lives in the ‘burbs and goes to
    school,” Martini said. And she’s a lot like the typical North Jersey teen girl.

    “A teenager in New Jersey is pretty similar to a teenager in Toronto,” Martini said. “They listen to the same kind of music. They love the same kind of
    brands, they go to the same kind of movies and they all look for the same kind of shopping experience,” she said.

    The Garden State Plaza store will be the ninth Garage in the United States and the second shop in New Jersey. A Garage opened in Woodbridge in August. A
    third Garage store will open in Cherry Hill in November.

    Russian-based chain Kira Plastinina opened its first shop in New Jersey this summer. The store, decorated almost entirely in vivid shades of pink, is the
    namesake creation of the teenage daughter of Moscow mogul Sergey Plastinin. The store’s prime customers are females ages 15 to 25. It has 12 U.S. stores
    and plans to open two more this year.

    While Garage and Kira Plastinina are targeting female teen shoppers, South Korea’s Who.A.U. is going after the spending power of both sexes, with stores
    that sell “California-style” surfer wear and casual clothes.

    “How I describe Who.A.U. is, they’re a cross between Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch,” said Consolo. “They’re right in the middle.” The Garden State Plaza
    Who.A.U. store has a beach-house design similar to Hollister’s, and teen greeters at the door.

    The chain is an arm of South Korean apparel maker and manufacturing conglomerate E-Land. “They’re a very important entity and they have been operating on
    a wholesale level in the United States for a very long time,” Consolo said.

    The chain plans to open other stores in the area, including at Palisades Center in West Nyack, N.Y., Consolo said. The chain expects to open as many as
    450 stores in this country over the next 10 years.

    Garden State Plaza also soon will add a branch of lululemon athletica, the Vancouver-based yoga and exercise apparel chain, and New Jersey’s first Tanishq
    store, an Indian jewelry shop.

    Tanishq, India’s largest jewelry chain with 112 stores, will open in a 3,200-square-foot space at the Plaza in November. It opened its first U.S. shop in
    Illinois in July. Chain spokesman Guarav Bhuwan said he believes American consumers will find the Tanishq offerings “very different from any other jewelry
    store.” The chain’s collections “are inspired by nature, culture,” he said.

    Tanishq is part of the Indian conglomerate that includes the Tata car company.

    H&M, the Swedish clothing chain that launched a large-scale U.S. expansion over a decade ago, continues to seek locations in North Jersey. This month, it
    opened its 157th U.S. store, at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne.

    Kalish of Deloitte acknowledged that, in the past, foreign retailers have tried and failed to gain a foothold in the U.S. market. But for the current batch
    of retail immigrants, the possible reward is worth the risk.

    “It’s not that huge an investment to open up a bunch of specialty stores in malls,” Kalish said, unlike the investment needed to open supermarkets.

    “It’s sort of a roll of the dice. If it doesn’t work, they can pull out and their losses won’t be great. But if it does catch on, then there’s a huge upside

    A new accent

    The following foreign chains have recently launched U.S. expansions and are looking to establish a presence in New Jersey malls:

    * Garage A Montreal-based clothing chain for teen girls, with 150 stores in Canada. Garage will have nine stores in the U.S. by November, including one
    at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus.

    * Kira Plastinina A very pink, very girly store for teens and young women featuring the designs of Kira Plastinina, daughter of a Russian business tycoon.

    * lululemon athletica A yoga and exercise retailer based in Vancouver. Opening in Paramus and Princeton.

    * Tanishq This Indian-based jewelry chain will open its second U.S. store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in November.

    * Who.A.U. A South Korean wholesale clothing manufacturer with a new concept for California-style surfer-chic stores in U.S. malls. The company sees potential
    for 450 stores, and opened its second U.S. store last month at Westfield Garden State Plaza.

    E-mail: verdon@northjersey.com

  113. “A teenager in New Jersey is pretty similar to a teenager in Toronto,”

    Ok………………………someone has not taken there meds today.

  114. I know all those stores in GSP i saw coming soon signs for. I love WHO AU.

  115. They should turn the Mandee into WHO AU
    The old Pet Pourri into Tanishq
    The old Limited Too into Garage
    The vacant spot next to Gap into Armani Exchange
    Wilsons leather into American Apparel
    and Amy’s Hallmark into Puma

  116. Read this article, it may explane Willowbrook’s troubles as of late. Be sure to put your comments afterwards.

    Financial crisis moves from Wall St. to the mall

    By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO (AP Business Writer)

    October 2, 2008

    NEW YORK – Alarmed by the financial meltdown, stores nationwide are slapping sale signs on everything from fall sweaters to furniture – frantically trying to attract shoppers who are cutting back.

    Some analysts were already expecting the weakest sales growth for the holiday season in 24 years, and with uncertainty roiling the banking system and a teetering economy, they figure Americans will make their lists and check them three or four times.

    “I haven’t seen this kind of fright since 9/11,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of real estate firm Prudential Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing sales division. She said stores are “all arming themselves for what is probably the most difficult season across the board.”

    At malls, shopping districts and on the Web, the discounts are growing desperate. “Up to 60 percent off,” say signs at AnnTaylor LOFT stores, “50 percent off” at Old Navy. Restoration Hardware Inc. e-mailed $100 gift vouchers out to customers Thursday for purchases of $400 or more.

    Holiday items are starting to flow into stores – and they’re expected to be marked down immediately, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD Group Inc.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is opening its Christmas shops a week earlier than last year to lure shoppers. Wal-Mart is also cutting prices on 10 popular toys to $10 each. Holiday catalogs are already arriving in the mail.

    But it may take more than sale signs and promotions to spur shoppers, who have been dealing for months with high gas and food prices, weaker job and housing markets and tighter credit.

    Many economists predict spending could deteriorate as the problems on Wall Street cascade through the economy, with layoffs expected to rise and frozen credit markets meaning shoppers are having a harder time getting loans and credit lines. Eight in 10 fear the financial crisis will affect them directly, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

    Noelle Snow, 41, of Deerfield, Ill., said the economic turmoil has made her cut her holiday budget for her two children to $200 from $500.

    “I’m just trying to sock away what I can between budgeting for a couple of things that have broken in my house,” said Snow, who worries about her job in financial services and her stock funds. “I’d rather put that money toward a couple of things.”

    Amanda Plummer, owner of Precious Plum, a high-end clothing store in Summit, N.J., a bedrock community for financial executives, said business has slowed in September.

    “I am definitely nervous. People are doing a lot more window shopping. Instead of buying four or five items, they are buying one or two,” said Plummer.

    Nevertheless, at clothing stores in malls, the volume and level of discounting is running about 10 percent more than a year ago, said John D. Morris, an analyst at Wachovia Capital Markets.

    Holiday orders from clothing stores were already about 15 percent below last year’s, and some stores are now canceling orders, said Arnold Cohen, co-founder of Mahoney Cohen and Co., an accounting firm for the apparel industry.

    And industry figures indicate more shoppers are just staying home. Some industry sales forecasts say the holiday season could have the weakest growth since the early 1980s.

    As the economy has turned sour, Americans have already been flocking to discounters, buying more store-brand cereals and peanut butter and mending their clothes instead of buying new ones.

    For the holiday season, that may mean shoppers will look for more practical gifts instead of luxuries, said Tim Henderson, senior director and consumer strategist at Iconoculture, a cultural trend research company.

    Analysts say shoppers this year may try to avoid using credit cards when they do spend.

    Rodney Petreikis, 42, and Trina Harmon, 36, who were visiting Cincinnati from Malibu, Calif., said they will be making some of their own gifts and plan to rely on cash for what they do buy.

    “I use my debit card instead of a credit card, so I don’t end up spending more than I have to,” said Petreikis, an actor, director and writer.

    Even the wealthy have cut back on status symbols, and could pull back even more as layoffs rise in the financial industry.

    Online jewelry seller Blue Nile Inc. told analysts last month the credit crunch is hurting sales of jewelry priced from $2,000 to $15,000 because shoppers can’t charge as much on their credit cards.

    Prices in consumer electronics have come down dramatically on everything from flat-panel TVs to Blu-ray DVD players in the past few weeks as stores appear to be reacting to a sharp falloff in demand, said Jeff Trester, co-founder of tracking firm PriceSCAN.com.

    Throughout the holiday season, business at malls is expected to remain sluggish. The toy business, generally less vulnerable to economic woes because parents tend to cut back on themselves first, could also suffer.

    Sherrie Krieg, 63, had been planning another big year for holiday gifts, most likely spending the same $5,000 she spent last year on her family including two grandchildren.

    But Krieg said she and her husband, a retired factory worker, who live in Milwaukee on a fixed income and depend heavily on investments, said they will cut that in half because of the market’s turmoil.

    Her grandchildren, she said, “will have to learn it’s not going to be the same.”

  117. Cristmas is’nt coming this year people 🙁

  118. What a bunch of bunk. But that figures because it is coming from the Associated Press. How does the Associated (de)Press(ed) think they know what is going to happen. Another example of how the media is not reporting the news, but speculating on the future, and what MIGHT happen, and then report that is news. I don’t plan on participating in an economic downturn and I will spend more this holiday shopping season.

  119. I just came across this story in the NY Times.

    October 15 2008.

    General Growth, Mall Owner, May Be Facing a Sale
    It took only six weeks of negotiations for General Growth Properties, the nation’s second-largest shopping mall owner and operator, to agree to buy the Rouse Company in 2004 for $12.6 billion, a breathtaking price at the time.

    Now that hasty decision, which drew immediate fire from Wall Street analysts, has come back to haunt General Growth and may lead to the sale of the 54-year-old company, whose widely known properties include Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Water Tower Place in Chicago and the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

    General Growth’s acquisition of Rouse, which was known for its innovative planned communities like Columbia, Md., and its “festival marketplaces” like Faneuil Hall in Boston and the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, was financed almost entirely with short-term mortgage debt. This financing strategy, with debt equal to more than 70 percent of its capitalization, raised fears that General Growth, a real estate investment trust based in Chicago with more than 200 shopping centers, had become overleveraged — fears that have now been borne out. The deal included $5.4 billion of Rouse’s debt.

    “They believed that credit markets would continue to be friendly and they would have ample opportunities to restructure their debt,” said Keven S. Lindemann, the director of real estate for SNL Financial, a research company in Charlottesville, Va. “But the capital markets turned against them.”

    Earlier this month, the company dismissed its longtime chief financial officer and suspended its dividend. Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have reduced the company’s credit ratings.

    John Bucksbaum, chief executive since 1999 of the company founded by his father, Matthew, and an uncle, Martin, who died in 1995, declined to be interviewed. But in a recent statement, General Growth said it was exploring a variety of options, including the sales of individual properties and partnerships with other companies, to “align the market value of the company’s common stock more closely with the intrinsic value” of its shopping malls.

    The company has also postponed $1.1 billion of projects, according to Green Street Advisors, a research company in Newport Beach, Calif., including an open-air retail and office development with 1.5 million square feet in Summerlin, Nev., the vast planned community near Las Vegas that it acquired in the Rouse merger.

    Despite these efforts, Rich Moore, a retail REIT analyst at RBC Capital Markets, predicted that another large shopping mall operator, or a combination of rival companies, would end up buying General Growth. “The reality is, given this credit crunch, they’re up against the wall,” Mr. Moore said. Possible suitors for all or parts of the company include the Simon Property Group, the Westfield Group and Vornado Realty Trust.

    Giving up the company would be a humiliating blow for Mr. Bucksbaum, a cycling enthusiast whose family ranked No. 205 on Forbes magazine’s most recent list of the 400 richest Americans. The company traces its roots to a family grocery business in Marshalltown, Iowa, which Mr. Bucksbaum’s father and uncle expanded into one of the Midwest’s earliest shopping centers, the Town and Country Center in Cedar Rapids, in 1954. The company moved its headquarters to Chicago in 1997.

    Like most REITs, General Growth grew by acquiring other companies. Jim Sullivan, a senior analyst at Green Street Advisors, said John Bucksbaum’s biggest mistake was giving Bernard Freibaum, the chief financial officer for 15 years, an unusual degree of autonomy. “He was the architect of a financial strategy that did not provide for flexibility when things got tough,” Mr. Sullivan said.

    Analysts say that General Growth is considered a strong mall operator whose woes are not a reflection of its performance. In more ways than not, General Growth resembles the industry leader, the Simon Property Group. Like Simon, General Growth has a mixture of highly successful shopping centers and others that are less productive. “The overwhelming share of their growth and income comes from their top 50 to 70 malls,” said Paul Morgan, a REIT analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Company, referring to both companies. But the ratio of Simon’s debt to its market capitalization is only 40 percent, he said.

    In a conference call with analysts on July 31, Mr. Bucksbaum said that mall occupancy during the second quarter was 93.2 percent, a record. The company has remained largely unaffected by the wave of recent retail bankruptcies, with store closings amounting to fewer than 1 percent. And though sales per square foot did not increase since last year, they averaged a healthy $459 a square foot, with the strongest 50 malls generating an average of $648 a square foot, he said.

    But the company has $8.5 billion in debt coming due before the end of 2010, most of it in the form of maturing mortgage loans. Refinancing the debt is considered highly unlikely because of the credit squeeze and the decline in retail real estate values stemming from the economic downturn.

    And General Growth has made other mistakes as well. It already had a presence in Las Vegas with the Meadows, Boulevard and Grand Canal malls when it bought Rouse, the owner of the Fashion Show mall as well as Summerlin. The $1 billion in debt coming due this year includes loans on the Fashion Show and the Shoppes at the Palazzo, the new mall that General Growth recently acquired from the Las Vegas Sands. “They put a lot of eggs in a basket that was already pretty full,” Mr. Sullivan said.

    The Las Vegas area has been hit especially hard by the housing crisis, and tourism is also feeling the effects of the downturn. From August 2007 to August 2008, the number of visitors to the city declined by 4.3 percent and gambling revenue was down by 9.4 percent, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.

    In an embarrassing legal defeat, General Growth was ordered last November to pay $74.2 million in compensatory damages to a private developer, Caruso Affiliated Holdings, after a jury found that it had tried to block the Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain from opening in a new shopping center adjacent to its own Glendale Galleria in California.

    Shares of General Growth, already battered by its debt problems, recently plummeted further as executives, including Mr. Freibaum, were forced to sell millions of dollars worth of stock to satisfy margin calls. (The Bucksbaum family did not sell any shares, the company said.)

    General Growth’s struggles have not stopped the company from pursuing development opportunities. In June, the company announced an ambitious redevelopment plan for the South Street Seaport that would include a 42-story apartment and hotel tower. Last week, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York designated General Growth as one of the developers of a 1.7-million-square-foot development between Second and Third Avenues and 125th and 127th Streets in East Harlem.

    General Growth is hardly the only shopping center company in trouble these days. The Centro Properties Group, a strip center company based in Melbourne, Australia, has faced similar short-term debt problems since its acquisition last year of New Plan Excel Realty Trust, a United States REIT. Feldman Mall Properties of Great Neck, N.Y., which owns seven shopping centers across the country, disclosed last month that it might go out of business by the end of the year.

    But those companies were never in General Growth’s league.

    “This is a blue-chip, incredibly well-respected company with a founding family that helped build the mall business in this country,” Mr. Sullivan said.

    If this story is true, then Willowbrook will have a new owner soon. This will forever change the retailing landscape.


  120. To add one more tidbit, the CEO of GGP John Bucksbom got a $300,000 pay raise while the company goes under. Two customer service reps @ the Fashon Show Mall in Las Vegas told me this last week. Both of them were quite ticked off about it, & how can you blame them. I said, GGP should give you some of that money, & both reps agreed.

  121. Another GGP story from the Tribune.

    Family losing mall-firm grip: John Bucksbaum gives up CEO role at General Growth

    Sandra M. Jones

    October 28, 2008

    Oct. 28–Tribune reporter

    Ever since the Bucksbaums expanded their Iowa grocery store in 1954 into one of the nation’s first shopping malls, a family member has run the company.

    Until now.

    John Bucksbaum, the second-generation member of one of Chicago’s wealthiest families, stepped down as chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc., the company said Monday, in the wake of an escalating crisis that has left the mall owner uncertain how it is going to make debt payments left over from an acquisition spree.

    Bucksbaum’s resignation came as General Growth’s board said it found that loans made by an affiliate of the family trust to two top executives violated company policy.

    The turn of events represents the second stunning blow to the family. General Growth’s struggles have wiped out billions of dollars of market capitalization, including almost $4 billion of the Bucksbaum family’s personal wealth.

    Bucksbaum remains as chairman, but taking him out of day-to-day operations appears to pave the way for selling some of General Growth’s marquee malls. The same day Bucksbaum stepped down as CEO, Chicago-based General Growth said it would look “immediately” to sell a group of high-profile shopping centers in Las Vegas.

    The moves surprised veterans in an industry where family empires still hold sway over some of the nation’s biggest shopping malls. Real estate executives have said that the Bucksbaums were less than eager to sell, especially their prized properties.

    “What they need to do is to sell the crown jewels, and with John Bucksbaum in control they were reluctant to do that,” said Jim Sullivan, managing director at Green Street Advisors, a research company in Newport Beach, Calif., that specializes in real estate investment trusts. “With the new structure, I think they’ll be willing to sell the crown jewels that the Bucksbaums may have an emotional attachment to.”

    Adam Metz, a mall real estate veteran and board member, replaces Bucksbaum as interim CEO. Thomas Nolan Jr., another board member, replaces Robert Michaels as president. Michaels gives up his board seat but keeps his chief operating officer post.

    The management shift gives some solace to investors who have been pushing General Growth to raise cash to meet debt payments by selling properties. General Growth has about $23 billion in debt maturing over the next five years, starting with a $1.2 billion due this year.

    General Growth officials declined to comment beyond Monday’s press release or to make any of its executives available for comment.

    Brothers Matthew and Martin Bucksbaum built the company, taking it public in 1972. The family remains the largest shareholder.

    John Bucksbaum took over the top job from his father, Matthew Bucksbaum, in 1999, several years after Martin died. Under John, the company became the nation’s second-largest shopping mall operator after Simon Property Group Inc., another family-run firm and longstanding rival.

    The Bucksbaums, who live in Lincoln Park, are fixtures in the civic and charitable scene in both Chicago and Aspen, Colo., where John, an affable athlete, spends time skiing and cycling. In business, he stretched too far, critics say, when he bought Rouse Co. in 2004 for $12 billion. Rouse brought General Growth showcase properties like Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. It also saddled the company with billions of dollars in debt that wound up coming due during one of the worst global credit meltdowns ever.

    “Considering a sale only at this late stage reflects what we consider to be the most significant mistake by the prior management team: that things would eventually stabilize and all of the debt maturity challenges would be readily solvable once credit markets normalized,” said Paul Morgan, an analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., in a Monday report.

    Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Lou Taylor said in a Monday report that selling the Las Vegas centers–Fashion Show Mall, Grand Canal Shoppes and the Palazzo–likely would raise enough money to address debt payments through next spring. The caveat: Prospective buyers are likely to pressure General Growth to include more desirable malls in the deal. Taylor also said chances are the company could be sold.

    Shares fell 9 percent, to $1.97, Monday. The stock has fallen 95 percent for the year and had been trading above $54 a year ago.

    On Monday, the company said it had “recently come to the attention of the board” that a Bucksbaum family trust advanced unsecured loans to Michaels and to former Chief Financial Officer Bernard Freibaum for the purpose of repaying personal margin debt related to company stock. The loan to Michaels totaled $10 million and has been repaid, the company said. The loan to Freibaum totaled $90 million and has $80 million outstanding, the company said.

    A review by the company’s independent directors concluded that the failure to disclose the loans to the board violated company policy but didn’t break laws or Securities and Exchange Commission rules, the firm said.


    Like the old saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire. This doesn’t come as a shock to me by any means. A customer service rep at Fashon Show Mall told me that the selling of some properties was a possibility, & FSM was on the hit list. This doesn’t rule out a complete sale of the company, infact I see that as being quite likely.

  122. From the las Vegas Review Journal.

    General Growth Puts Malls on the Block

    Benjamin Spillman

    October 28, 2008



    Mall giant General Growth Properties will try to use three malls on the Strip to escape the looming shadow of billions of dollars in debt.

    On Monday the company announced plans to offer Fashion Show, Grand Canal Shoppes and Shoppes at Palazzo malls for sale, as well as an overhaul of the senior management.

    The move looks like a last-ditch effort to save the second- biggest real estate investment trust, or REIT, in the country from an outright takeover or bankruptcy.

    But it may be too little, too late, analysts said.

    General Growth has $900 million in loans due by the end of November and about $4 billion by the end of 2009.

    “I think it is indicative that the end is near and they are going to get sold,” said Rich Moore, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

    Moore says he is doubtful General Growth will find buyers for the Las Vegas properties as individual entities.

    It’s likely they offered the big-name properties in an effort to slow a crippling slide in stock value that’s forced upper management to dump shares by the bushel to meet margin calls and made it even more difficult to refinance loans to remain solvent.

    “It keeps (Wall Street) at bay a bit,” Moore said.

    Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Lerner said the proposed Las Vegas sale could make it easier for General Growth to refinance its most pressing loans. Lerner also said it could be a signal a sale of the entire company is in the works.

    “Potential buyers of these three assets are likely to want other assets more strategic to their respective portfolios, as well. With so many assets potentially being marketed, it makes sense for the board to more seriously consider the sale of the entire company,” Lerner wrote.

    In addition to the sale offerings, General Growth ousted Chief Executive Officer John Bucksbaum, a member of the family that founded the company, and President Robert Michaels from those duties. Bucksbaum remains chairman of the board and Michaels is still chief operating officer.

    Moore predicted the changes announced Monday are a harbinger of a sale of the entire company, possibly to Simon Property Group, the nation’s biggest REIT. It already owns Forum Shops at Caesars.

    “Simon doesn’t want them sold off individually,” Moore said. “They’d like to jump in and buy the whole thing.”

    General Growth borrowed to create a massive portfolio of more than 200 properties in 44 states, including a $14 billion deal in 2004 to purchase the Rouse Co., which owned Fashion Show mall, Summerlin Centre and several other Las Vegas properties.

    Company stock started slipping several months ago as prospects for consumer spending waned.

    Shares went into freefall more recently when investors realized the confluence of the credit crunch with an emerging recession would make it difficult, if not impossible, for General Growth to make good on its debts.

    Financial blogger Reggie Middleton, whose detailed criticisms of General Growth were posted online at http://www.boombustblog.com in January, months before management acknowledged serious problems, said the news Monday wasn’t a surprise.

    “Of course it could have,” been prevented, said Middleton. “They didn’t take care of the problems.”

    He criticized management not only for over-leveraging the company long ago but for compounding the problem through mismanagement.

    Middleton said General Growth officials heaped blame on short sellers for forecasting a demise, got the company added to the list of firms protected from short sellers that was created in September to protect banks, then dumped millions of their own shares to meet margin calls.

    “The latter part of the share price compression was the management’s own making,” Middleton said. “They owned a lot (of stock) on margin. They sold more shares than speculators like me ever would.”

    Wally Brewster, General Growth Properties senior vice president of marketing and communications, said the malls are healthy on an operational level.

    But the company has loans coming due on Shoppes at Palazzo and Fashion Show, which made them candidates for sale, and Grand Canal Shoppes is one of the most successful malls in the country, meaning it would likely be attractive for a buyer.

    “They are some of the world’s highest-quality malls,” Brewster said.

    As for the notion that General Growth officials would seek a buyer for the entire company, “We always look at all the options.”

    Brewster also responded to the idea that company officials could have averted the problem by taking action earlier.

    “I think we stand on our success of the past 50 years,” Brewster said. “We are now dealing with an environment I don’t think the U.S. has seen since the Great Depression.”

    With Bucksbaum and Michaels demoted, General Growth turned to Adam Metz to be interim CEO.

    Metz was CFO of mall company Urban Retail Properties, which in 2000 was sold to the Dutch firm Rodamco. In 2002 Rodamco was sold to Rouse, Simon and Westfield, an Australia-based mall company. Metz came to General Growth when the company acquired Rouse in 2004.

    Moore agreed with Middleton that the moves on Monday aren’t likely to preserve General Growth as a complete entity. He added that current problems could have been averted had management girded the balance sheet before the credit markets went south.

    The moral of the story?

    “Leverage is very, very dangerous,” Moore said.

    General Growth Properties is the second-largest real estate investment trust in the country, with more than 200 properties in 44 states.

    The company’s Las Vegas portfolio includes

    * Grand Canal Shoppesat The Venetian

    * Shoppes at Palazzo

    * Summerlin Centre(under development)

    * High Street at Echelon(stalled in development)

    * Fashion Show mall

    * Boulevard Mall

    * Meadows mall

    Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

    Just like I said in the last post, it’s just a matter of time till GGP goes under. The question is who will buy these Las Vegas properties, & or perhaps the rest of the companies assets?

  123. General Growth may file for Bankruptcy . From the chicago tribune.
    By Sandra M. Jones | Tribune reporter
    November 11, 2008
    General Growth Properties Inc., the Chicago-based shopping mall operator, warned Monday that it could be forced to file for bankruptcy if it is unsuccessful in raising funds to meet looming debt payments, according to a regulatory filing.

    “Our potential inability to address our 2008 or 2009 debt maturities in a satisfactory fashion raises substantial doubts as to our ability to continue as a going concern,” the company said in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    General Growth is working with its syndicate of lenders to extend a Nov. 28 maturity date for $900 million related to two malls in Las Vegas, according to the filing.

    “Given the continued weakness of the retail and credit markets, there can be no assurance that we can obtain such extensions or refinance our existing debt or obtain the additional capital necessary to satisfy our short-term cash needs on satisfactory terms,” the company said in the filing, released after the markets closed.

    The company has an additional $3.07 billion of debt coming due next year. If it is unable to extend or refinance the debt or raise funds to pay it, General Growth “will be required to take further steps to acquire the funds necessary to satisfy our short-term cash needs, including seeking legal protection from our creditors,” the filing said.

    A company spokesman declined to comment further.

    John Bucksbaum, a second-generation member of the family that founded the company, stepped down as chief executive last month in the wake of an escalating crisis that has left the mall owner uncertain how it is going to make debt payments left over from an acquisition spree.

    General Growth has about $23 billion in debt maturing over the next five years, with $1.2 billion due this year.

    Brothers Matthew and Martin Bucksbaum built the company, taking it public in 1972. The family remains the largest shareholder.

    Shares fell 34 percent Monday, to $1.37. The stock was trading above $54 a little more than a year ago.



    GGP is such a good mall developer and they have the best malls in the business. every thing form the malls to thier websites (IMO their websites are the best out of all of them.) I would hate to see them bankrupt.

  124. Oh man, GGP going bankrupt would be terrible. They know how to do malls.

  125. They know how to do malls, usually. They have a few clinkers in their lineup, like Bay City Mall, which opened in 1992 and still has at least 3 or 4 spaces that have NEVER been leased, as well as a couple of half-assed, oddly shaped spaces, and the emptiest food court I’ve ever seen in a not-dead mall. They also made a bunch of early 1990s projects wherein all the mall entrances are bunched up on one side (Birchwood in Port Huron, Grand Traverse in Traverse City, etc.).

  126. Here in Wisconsin, GGP owned the following malls since their inception:
    * Fox River Mall – Appleton (1984 opening)
    * Oakwood Mall – Eau Claire (1986 opening)

    They acquired the following from other companies over the years:
    * Mayfair Mall – Wauwatosa (Late 1990s acquisition )

    Should GGP go under, I’d prefer to see Mayfair go to Taubman (if they’re still in the REIT game), Fox River to go to CBL, and Oakwood to Simon.

    The reason being, if Simon snagged Fox River Mall (and I’m sure they’d love it, because FRM is this state’s most popular mall), I feel that would give them way too much clout. They’ll own about every major Eastern Wisconsin mall that isn’t dying off.

    Oakwood could use a total remodel, and Simon I feel, has the cash for that, along with filling the empty space that exists there.

    Mayfair needs to keep whatever ‘upscale’ offerings it has. Taubman’s malls seem to get the newest concepts and even some international retailers in their malls first….and oftentimes, their malls are the exclusive homes of those stores, not found anywhere else in the country.

    Just my .02 cents worth.

  127. I think most likely Simon will buy GGP out & divest the weakest assets from both companies, or perhaps GGP will split the malls between Simon & a few others like CBL & Westfield.

    That brings up an interesting question, what will happen to Columbia outside Baltimore & Summerlin near Las Vegas? Since both were originally part of Rouse, there status goes into flux. Will Simon keep them as is? Just keeping the retail portions & selling the residential side? This is far from simple, but I think we will get answers sooner rather than later.


  128. Either company (Simon or Westfield), I think, would sell off the Summerlin/Columbia retail portion. On The Mall in Columbia, that is one stellar mall! Wouldn’t be surprised to see Westfield jump @ Columbia…it would further cement their position in MD (Montgomery Mall which is soon to be expanded, Wheaton Plaza and the recently expanded Annapolis Mall).

    I would really like to see Westfield take control of Willowbrook. True, their hallmark property is only 12 miles away (Garden State Plaza), but remember, GSP, due to the Bergen Co Blue Laws does not open on Sunday….its Sunday shoppers go to Willowbrook as an alternate. As a result, Westfield could market Willowbrook as the Sunday alternative…and they may invest more money in it (expansions, please) than has GGP.

    And a little farther south, pne wonders what would happen if Simon were to take control of Woodbridge Center (a GGP mall)…remember, they manage Menlo Park, a mere 2 miles away from Woodbridge…and albeit smaller mall, it’s a more superior mall to Woodbridge.

  129. Mallguy,

    You maybe on the right track. Here’s a quick article from the AP on Westfield.

    Westfield sees earnings rise 5.5 percent this year

    November 11, 2008

    SYDNEY, Australia – Australia’s biggest shopping mall operator, Westfield Group, said Wednesday it expects earnings to grow 5.5 percent this year despite weakening retail sales.

    The Sydney-based company – which owns and manages 119 malls in the United States, Britain and New Zealand, as well as Australia – also said in its third-quarter review that it would pay a distribution of 1.065 Australian dollars (69.9 cents) per stapled security in fiscal 2008.

    Both the distribution and the earnings growth were also predicted in the company’s half-year review released on Oct. 10.

    The latest report said the company had maintained occupancy levels across all markets and there was “continued demand from retailers for space, notwithstanding a weakening sales environment.”

    Westfield owns AU$42.1 billion ($27.6 billion) in assets and has AU$62.9 billion ($41.3 billion) under management.

  130. This is a very interesting development reguarding GGP. It looks as if a class action suit is in the works do to possible securities fraud. I doubt there are many readers on this sight who baught GGP stock recently, but I’m posting it just in case with contact info.

    Kaplan Fox Investigates
    General Growth Properties, Inc. – Investigation of Possible Securities Laws Violations

    New York – November 11, 2008 – Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP (www.kaplanfox.com) has been investigating General Growth Properties, Inc. (“General Growth” or the “Company”) (NYSE: GGP) for potential violations of the federal securities laws. Investors who purchased General Growth common stock between April 30, 2008 and October 26, 2008 (the “Class Period”) may be affected.

    A complaint has been filed against General Growth alleging that during the Class Period, defendants made false and misleading statements about the Company’s access to financing. Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants represented that General Growth had the ability to refinance billions of dollars in debt that was coming due in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 on acceptable terms. In fact, the complaint alleges, General Growth did not have access to such financing. Further, the complaint alleges that defendants failed to disclose that the Company’s President/Chief Operating Officer and its Chief Financial Officer had received loans from the Chief Executive Officer’s family trust in violation of the Company’s own Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.

    On September 22, 2008, the Company announced that it was pursuing a comprehensive evaluation of its financial and strategic alternatives. On October 3, 2008, the Company suspended its dividend and then, on October 27, 2008, announced it was marketing for sale its portfolio of retail properties in Las Vegas. On this series of disclosures, General Growth’s stock price collapsed, falling from $21.42 on September 19, 2008 to less than $2.00 per share on October 27, 2008, or nearly 95% from its Class Period high of $43.83 per share.

    If you purchased General Growth common stock between April 30, 2008 and October 26, 2008 and would like to discuss our investigation, please e-mail us at mail@kaplanfox.com or contact:

    Frederic S. Fox

    Donald R. Hall

    Jeffrey P. Campisi

    Iona Evans


    850 Third Avenue, 14th Floor

    New York, New York 10022

    (800) 290-1952

    (212) 687-1980

    Fax: (212) 687-7714

    E-mail address: mail@kaplanfox.com

    Laurence D. King


    350 Sansome Street, Suite 400

    San Francisco, California 94104

    (415) 772-4700

    Fax: (415) 772-4707

    E-mail address: mail@kaplanfox.com

  131. This is a very interesting development reguarding GGP. It looks as if a class action suit is in the works do to possible securities fraud. I doubt there are many readers on this sight who baught GGP stock recently, but I’m posting it just in case with contact info.

    Kaplan Fox Investigates
    General Growth Properties, Inc. – Investigation of Possible Securities Laws Violations

    New York – November 11, 2008 – Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP (www.kaplanfox.com) has been investigating General Growth Properties, Inc. (“General Growth” or the “Company”) (NYSE: GGP) for potential violations of the federal securities laws. Investors who purchased General Growth common stock between April 30, 2008 and October 26, 2008 (the “Class Period”) may be affected.

    A complaint has been filed against General Growth alleging that during the Class Period, defendants made false and misleading statements about the Company’s access to financing. Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants represented that General Growth had the ability to refinance billions of dollars in debt that was coming due in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 on acceptable terms. In fact, the complaint alleges, General Growth did not have access to such financing. Further, the complaint alleges that defendants failed to disclose that the Company’s President/Chief Operating Officer and its Chief Financial Officer had received loans from the Chief Executive Officer’s family trust in violation of the Company’s own Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.

    On September 22, 2008, the Company announced that it was pursuing a comprehensive evaluation of its financial and strategic alternatives. On October 3, 2008, the Company suspended its dividend and then, on October 27, 2008, announced it was marketing for sale its portfolio of retail properties in Las Vegas. On this series of disclosures, General Growth’s stock price collapsed, falling from $21.42 on September 19, 2008 to less than $2.00 per share on October 27, 2008, or nearly 95% from its Class Period high of $43.83 per share.

    If you purchased General Growth common stock between April 30, 2008 and October 26, 2008 and would like to discuss our investigation, please e-mail us at mail@kaplanfox.com or contact:

    Frederic S. Fox

    Donald R. Hall

    Jeffrey P. Campisi

    Iona Evans


    850 Third Avenue, 14th Floor

    New York, New York 10022

    (800) 290-1952

    (212) 687-1980

    Fax: (212) 687-7714

    E-mail address: mail@kaplanfox.com

    Laurence D. King


    350 Sansome Street, Suite 400

    San Francisco, California 94104

    (415) 772-4700

    Fax: (415) 772-4707

    E-mail address: mail@kaplanfox.com

    The plot thickens.

  132. The GGP sogga continues. The entire article can be found at http://www.wsj.com. A subscription is require to view.

    General Growth Taps Bankruptcy Counsel, Report Says
    November 20, 2008, 6:08 am Link to This E-mail this Topics LegalIndustries Real EstateGeneral Growth Properties, the shopping mall giant, has hired law firm Sidley Austin as bankruptcy counsel as it negotiates with lenders for more time to restructure its $27 billion debt, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    However, the move doesn’t mean that a Chapter 11 filing from the company is imminent, The Journal said, noting that it happens often that troubled companies who hire such advisers never take that step.

    General Growth, based in Chicago, has $1.13 billion in debt coming due, including $900 million in secured mortgage debt due November 28 on two of its Las Vegas shopping centers — Fashion Show mall and Shoppes at the Palazzo, and $58 million of corporate debt on December 1.

    Earlier this month, General Growth disclosed that it was having difficulty dealing with its debt and warned that it might not continue as a going concern.

    The company is in talks with banks including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Wachovia to extend its payment deadline on the $900 million due November 28 as it tries to avoid a possible bankruptcy filing, The Journal said, adding that General Growth was also trying to sell three luxury malls on the Las Vegas Strip.

    The company said in October that it was exploring a variety of options, including the sales of individual properties and partnerships with other companies, to “align the market value of the company’s common stock more closely with the intrinsic value” of its shopping malls.

  133. Pa. gov promises bankruptcy exit help for Boscov’s

    November 20, 2008

    HARRISBURG, Pa. – Gov. Ed Rendell says the state has secured $35 million in federal loans to help regional department store chain Boscov’s exit bankruptcy.

    Rendell said Thursday the loans will be financed through a program that allows governments to guarantee loans for economic development with federal community development block grants.

    Reading-based Boscov’s filed for Chapter 11 protection in August and announced that it would close 10 of its 49 stores.

    Rendell says Boscov’s won’t have access to the federal loans if it can’t obtain bridge loans that are part of more than $300 million in financing the chain will need to exit bankruptcy.

    Boscov’s is in the midst of court hearings in Delaware on its bankruptcy sale to two former executives.

  134. Here’s one for the old timers like me. I worked there in the 1990s (Record Town, Stern’s Wing, Second Floor) but had been going to Willowbrook since I was a kid.

    Am I crazy or did there used to be an elevator that connected two of the small tenant stores on the north side of the Stern’s Wing? I dimly remember this as a kid but could be mistaken.

  135. This mall has really changed – for the worse I’m afraid. I remember “hanging out” at the mall as soon as I got my license (the mall was only a few years old then) – had my Gyro there – used to get them from a little shop in the middle of one of the mall’s hallways – they had great pretzels too! Back in those days the mall was much easier to get to – Rts 23 & 46 had much less traffic and most of the stores in and around Willbrook Mall were not there. It was a lot safer too back in the day!

  136. I would have to say early to mid 1990s was the low point for Willowbrook Mall in terms of safety and store selection. With the addition of Lord and Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, the mall has made quite a rebound and has attracted many great stores. Is it at 100% of its potential yet? No, but it’s much farther along. If General Growth does go under, I’d like to see Westfield take it over as I think they’d do wonders with it, marketing it as their “Sunday Sister” to GS Plaza & only 12 miles away.

    Some of the construction in the area is coming to an end, but like any other major retail hub in NJ, traffic goes with the territory.

  137. Does anyone remember August Max upstairs near the Gap? What a great store! I also used to work at J.M. Towne across the way – also in Caldwell too. Pants Place Plus was by Sterns, downstairs.

    Smugglers Attic was a fun place to go. Great times in the 70’s. What was the name of that great record shop near Sears? Harmony something?

  138. Anyone heard anything about future store openings? They’ve added a section on the website that tell’s you what was new this year, but I always like to know what is coming next. Seems like the same vacant spots are still available and the seasonal renters appear to be gone, so what can we expect, it’s time to get these slots filled! Anyone know anything?

  139. I wouldn’t mind if Westfield took it over. In fact, that way when anyone refers to “Willowbrook Mall” it will be automatically assumed it would be Willowbrook Mall of Houston which GGP also owns. >:D

  140. I went to Willowbrook last night to scout out if anything is happening with new stores…in a nutshell…not much. The Chocolat Blue/Signature shoe store next to Swatch is now drywalled and Bare Escentuals is coming soon. Pet Pourri storefront was drywalled over too but blank. The piece of fye by Sears not taken over by XXI Forever still says New Retail Coming Soon…that’s it. And it looks like the Quails location in the old Limited too slot by Bloomingdales is gearing up to close. Oh and the Mimi Maternity by J.Jill is now closed. Anyone hear anything?

  141. As to the area surrounding the Willowbrook Mall: Wayne is a booming “edge city” a la Troy, MI, Oak Brook, IL, or Edison, NJ further south. It has a mostly middle-class and upper middle-class Catholic and Jewish white population, like most other North Jersey suburbs, a booming retail corridor along Routes 23 and 46, lots of light industry in the southern part of town, and a ton of corporate parks as you go up into the mountains, with companies headquartered there like Toys “R” Us and one of the American divisions of BAE Systems, as well as a huge hospital and WPUNJ. In place of Paterson, it really has become the “center city” for southern Passaic County.
    But, I would not call most of the areas surrounding the Willowbrook Mall as affluent as those surrounding the Short Hills Mall, in southeastern Essex County, western Union County, southern Morris County, and northern Somerset County. Northeast Morris County, southern Passaic County, and northern Essex County range from affluent (North Caldwell, Montville) to solidly middle class (Little Falls, Verona, Lincoln Park) to working-class (Paterson, Passaic). I grew up in an upper middle-class town where many of the more affluent people completely avoided the Willowbrook Mall and made the short drive further south to Short Hills Mall or northeast to the retail selection in Paramus. The trade area for the Willowbrook Mall, stretching from Passaic and Nutley in the east to Montville or Boonton in the west, contains a range of incomes from low to high, but tends to center out around middle. This varied demographic in the trade area may be one of the reasons why it seems like Willowbrook has trouble settling on an identity. It is also a very ethnically diverse area: Italians, Puerto Ricans, South Americans, Dominicans, some African-Americans, Irish, Arabic, Polish, South Asian,…. Lots of lower income people, especially teenagers, take NJ Transit buses from Paterson or Newark to the Willowbrook Mall. This has created tension around the Willowbrook Mall; it is something of a “contested zone.” There are always rumors about crime or the Willowbrook Mall going downhill floating around, many of which center around the white population’s suspicions of the minority teenagers who hang out there. It is a “teenager’s mall” to a degree where large groups of teenagers from the surrounding town aimlessly hang out, in the way that malls are in the ’80s sense. As a result, socioeconomically and ethnically different groups of “mall rats” meet there and mix. This is a source of both excitement and tension. I know from a friend of mine who was in rehab that a drug dealer who she met there would always hang out at the Willowbrook Mall; there was definitely some anxiety about the safety of the place after dark, due to the large gangs of marauding teenagers. From time to time, as I mentioned before, rumors would circulate, and North Jerseyans would recommend the trip to Short Hills or Paramus instead. This seems to be the consequence of an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse market.
    Willowbrook Mall, nevertheless, has a secure position within the North Jersey retail market, forming the centerpiece of the massive retail strip of Routes 46 and 3 going through Essex, Morris, and Bergen counties. Though the Bloomingdale’s is never crowded, the interior of the mall is bustling, and the place is gradually up-scaling itself. During the holiday season, parking is nearly impossible. Virtually every time there was a sale (Columbus Day, President’s Day) or holiday sale, my family and I went to the huge, very nicely appointed Macy’s there. It also remains virtually the only shopping mall for northeastern/central Morris County (which is undermalled), and Passaic and northern Essex counties. This ensures its long term success, in spite of its identity crisis due to its diverse market. This is furthered by the flashy, upscale fashions that even lower middle and middle-class people tend to desire in New Jersey. Oftentimes, in Jersey, the middle-class desires to shop like the upper-class.

  142. Willowbrook is having their 40th Anniversary Celebration this weekend. Leading up, they have banners around the mall with pictures of how the place looked before their 1988-89 renovation; the old center court, the old center court fountain, the old Macy’s Court, the old mall entrances and pictures of “Stern’s,” “Orbach’s” and “Bamberger’s” A nice trip down memory lane!

  143. I have recently discovered pictures of the old center court fountain at Willowbrook. It was pertty impressive in that it took up a lot of space and had many different elements…I miss those days!!!

  144. In a trip to Willowbrook last week, they seem to be doing very, very well in terms of crowds during the Christmas season. The mall is also nicely decorated, especially the additional Christmas lights surrounding the center court poinsettia tree.

    Also noticed a slight change in that Willowbrook is attempting to move toward soft seating areas as have the other area malls.

    Another thing I did notice was an increased police presence throughout the mall….a lot of uniformed police…not just Wayne PD, but Passaic Co PD and NJ State Police!

    It’s very comforting to see, but also a little surprising as crime at the mall has significantly wained since 2000.

  145. @mallguy, Wained or Wayned. LOL

    Sorry, just a cheap joke.


    Simon Property Group Makes $10 Billion Offer to Acquire General Growth Properties
    –Offer Provides 100% Cash Recovery Plus Accrued Interest To All Unsecured Creditors; Would Accelerate General Growth’s Emergence From Bankruptcy –General Growth Shareholders Would Receive Value Exceeding $9.00 Per Share, Including $6.00 Per Share In Cash Plus Assets Valued At More Than $3.00 Per Share, While Avoiding Likely Dilution From Stand-Alone Recapitalization –Offer Supported By General Growth’s Official Unsecured Creditor Committee –Acquisition of General Growth Portfolio By Best In Class Operator Offers Significant Value-Creation Opportunity For Simon Shareholders
    INDIANAPOLIS, Feb 16, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG) today announced that it has made a written offer to acquire General Growth Properties, Inc. (OTC Pink Sheets: GGWPQ) in a fully financed transaction valued at more than $10 billion, including approximately $9 billion in cash. The text of Simon’s February 8, 2010 offer letter to General Growth, as well as a letter Simon sent today to General Growth, are below.
    Simon’s offer would provide a 100% cash recovery of par value plus accrued interest and dividends to all General Growth unsecured creditors, the holders of its trust preferred securities, the lenders under its credit facility, the holders of its Exchangeable Senior Notes and the holders of Rouse bonds, immediately upon the effectiveness of a definitive transaction agreement. This consideration to creditors totals approximately $7 billion.

    General Growth shareholders would receive more than $9.00 per General Growth share, consisting of $6.00 per share in cash and a distribution of General Growth’s ownership interest in the Master Planned Community assets valued by General Growth at more than $3.00 per share. Simon is also prepared to offer Simon common equity instead of the cash consideration, in whole or in part, as payment to those General Growth shareholders or creditors who would prefer to participate in the upside of owning stock in Simon. Under Simon’s offer, the existing secured debt on General Growth’s portfolio of assets would remain in place.

    The Official Committee of General Growth’s Unsecured Creditors has advised Simon that it supports the Simon offer, and encourages General Growth to engage with Simon promptly to allow the proposed transaction to be considered by General Growth’s creditors and shareholders as soon as possible.

    David Simon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Simon’s offer provides the best possible outcome for all General Growth stakeholders. Simon is in the unique position of being able to offer General Growth creditors and shareholders full, fair and immediate value. Our offer provides much-needed certainty to conclude General Growth’s protracted reorganization process. We are confident it is the best option for all General Growth constituencies and far superior to any other third-party proposal or stand-alone plan that could be completed.”

    Mr. Simon continued, “This acquisition also offers a compelling value-creation opportunity for Simon shareholders. Simon’s strong track record of successfully completing large acquisitions and our history of delivering superior property-level performance ideally position Simon to create additional value with General Growth’s portfolio.”

    Michael Stamer, counsel for the Official Committee of General Growth’s Unsecured Creditors, said, “Full cash payment to all unsecured creditors and the substantial recovery for equity holders that Simon has proposed would be a great result. We fully support and encourage prompt engagement by the company with Simon.”

    The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and would be financed through Simon’s cash on hand and through equity co-investments in the acquisition by strategic institutional investors, with the balance coming from Simon’s existing credit facilities. Simon expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to its Funds From Operations in the first year after closing.

    Simon’s offer is subject to confirmatory due diligence, which it believes can be completed within 30 days, and customary proceedings in the General Growth bankruptcy process, including bankruptcy court and creditor approvals. The transaction is also subject to negotiation of a definitive transaction agreement between Simon and General Growth which would provide for reasonable certainty of closing. Simon believes this can be accomplished promptly, simultaneously with the completion of confirmatory due diligence.

    Lazard Ltd., J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors to Simon and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is serving as legal advisor.

    Following is the text of Simon’s February 8, 2010 offer letter to General Growth, as well as a letter Simon sent today to General Growth:

    February 16, 2010

    Board of Directors

    General Growth Properties, Inc.

    110 North Wacker Drive

    Chicago, Illinois 60606

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    It has now been more than a week since we met with your lead director, your CEO and your financial advisors and formally proposed to acquire GGP in a transaction that would provide a full cash recovery (par plus accrued interest and dividends) to GGP’s unsecured creditors, the holders of its trust preferred securities, the lenders under the GGP credit facility, and the holders of Exchangeable Senior Notes, and in which holders of GGP common stock would receive both $6.00 per share in cash and all of GGP’s ownership interests in the MPC assets, for a total value of more than $9.00 per GGP share. As we advised you, we are also willing to discuss consideration consisting (in whole or in part) of Simon common equity in lieu of the cash portion of the consideration to GGP’s stockholders, and perhaps certain of its unsecured creditors, for those who would prefer to participate in the upside associated with owning Simon stock. As you also know, our transaction would not be subject to any financing contingency.

    We have not received a substantive response to this offer from GGP or its advisors, nor any indication that you are prepared to enter into serious discussions so as to make our offer available to your shareholders and creditors. Accordingly, we are today making our offer public. The official committee of unsecured creditors of GGP strongly supports our offer and will encourage GGP to engage with Simon without delay, so as to allow our proposed transaction to be made available to GGP’s creditors and shareholders, and GGP to achieve a prompt and successful conclusion to its reorganization proceedings. We urge you to instruct your management and financial and legal advisors to immediately engage seriously with us, so that GGP and its creditors and shareholders can obtain the benefit of our proposed transaction – which provides for full and fair payment to all constituencies, is not subject to an extended period of market risk or other unforeseeable contingencies, and does not entail dilution of GGP’s existing equity interests – and GGP can achieve a prompt and successful conclusion to its reorganization proceedings.

    As we have previously stated, our offer is not open-ended, particularly given the uncertain economic environment that exists today. We look forward to hearing from you forthwith and to working together to consummate a transaction.

    Very truly yours,

    David Simon

    Chairman of the Board and

    Chief Executive Officer

    cc: Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

    February 8, 2010

    Mr. Glenn Rufrano

    Lead Director


    Mr. Adam Metz

    Chief Executive Officer

    General Growth Properties, Inc.

    110 North Wacker Drive

    Chicago, Illinois 60606

    Dear Glenn and Adam:

    We are prepared to acquire General Growth Properties, Inc. (“GGP”) in an all-cash transaction which will result in a favorable outcome for all of GGP’s creditors and shareholders, and a prompt conclusion to GGP’s reorganization proceedings. This letter is intended to provide you with the specifics of our proposal which are outlined below.

    Consideration.Simon Property Group, L.P. (“Simon”) would provide a full cash recovery (par plus accrued interest and dividends) to GGP’s unsecured creditors, the holders of its trust preferred securities, the lenders under the GGP credit facility, and the holders of Exchangeable Senior Notes. Simon would also pay the holders of GGP common stock $6.00 per share in cash, and distribute to them all of GGP’s ownership interests in the MPC assets. We are willing to discuss consideration consisting (in whole or in part) of Simon common equity in lieu of the cash portion of the consideration to GGP’s stockholders, and perhaps certain of its unsecured creditors, for those who would prefer to participate in the upside associated with owning Simon stock.

    We believe the current trading value of GGP’s common already includes a takeover premium, and given its high percentage of insider ownership and the fact that the stock trades in an over-the-counter securities market, reflects a price that cannot be realized in a stand alone reorganization. Any reorganization has a highly uncertain outcome which can be achieved only after an extended period of time, while incurring considerable additional expense, and may result in significant dilution of the current equity holders to the extent creditor claims are satisfied through the issuance of additional equity and/or GGP is recapitalized with proceeds from the issuance of new equity.

    No Financing Contingency. We have, or have access to, all of the financial resources required to consummate this transaction, and the transaction would not be subject to any financing contingency or condition.

    Due Diligence. The terms described above are based on publicly available information and subject to confirmatory due diligence. We and our team of advisors have thoroughly analyzed GGP, its assets and the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, based upon publicly available information, and we are prepared to proceed immediately to undertake and complete confirmatory due diligence and to enter into and consummate this transaction as promptly as possible. Simon has an unmatched track record of completing large and successful acquisitions, and we are prepared to commit the resources necessary to address all issues and finalize a mutually beneficial transaction between our two companies.

    We are convinced that a transaction with Simon is superior to any proposal you may be contemplating. We trust that when considering our proposal, you will take into account the many benefits of having GGP’s equity holders receive full and fair compensation for their interest versus the uncertain value in any other scenario. The fact that the proposal is all cash and pays unsecured creditors in full will bring certainty to the reorganization process and accelerate its completion which will have the added benefit of eliminating GGP’s significant bankruptcy related expenses.

    Our proposal is not open-ended, particularly given the uncertain economic environment that exists today. We look forward to hearing from you soon and working together to consummate a transaction.

    Very truly yours,

    David Simon

    Chairman of the Board and

    Chief Executive Officer

    cc: Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

    About Simon Property Group

    Simon Property Group, Inc. is an S&P 500 company and the largest public U.S. real estate company. Simon is a fully integrated real estate company which operates from five retail real estate platforms: regional malls, Premium Outlet Centers(R), The Mills(R), community/lifestyle centers and international properties. It currently owns or has an interest in 382 properties comprising 261 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia. The Company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. Simon Property Group, Inc. is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol SPG. For further information, visit the Company’s website at http://www.simon.com.

    Forward Looking Statements

    Certain statements made in this press release may be deemed “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although the Company believes the expectations reflected in any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, the Company can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained, and it is possible that actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements due to a variety of risks, uncertainties and other factors. Such factors include, but are not limited to: the Company’s ability to meet debt service requirements, the availability and terms of financing, changes in the Company’s credit rating, changes in market rates of interest and foreign exchange rates for foreign currencies, changes in value of investments in foreign entities, the ability to hedge interest rate risk, risks associated with the acquisition, development, expansion, leasing and management of properties, general risks related to retail real estate, the liquidity of real estate investments, environmental liabilities, international, national, regional and local economic climates, changes in market rental rates, trends in the retail industry, relationships with anchor tenants, the inability to collect rent due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of tenants or otherwise, risks relating to joint venture properties, costs of common area maintenance, competitive market forces, risks related to international activities, insurance costs and coverage, terrorist activities, changes in economic and market conditions and maintenance of our status as a real estate investment trust. The Company discusses these and other risks and uncertainties under the heading “Risk Factors” in its annual and quarterly periodic reports filed with the SEC. The Company may update that discussion in its periodic reports, but otherwise the Company undertakes no duty or obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future developments, or otherwise.

    SOURCE Simon Property Group, Inc.

  147. I went to willowbrook today for the first time since May, and i still like it alot. The blank space between XXI Forever and Justice is a new Wet Seal, it has a nice facade, but the inside is trashy. The old AT&T in center court in now Yankee Candle, it’s nicely cradled in. The new
    AT&T is by metropark downstairs in the Bloomingdale’s wing. Bare Escentuals is nice looking, I don’t remember anything else new. Also, Abercrombie is having a good sale on jeans, most styles are $29.90 i picked up a pair 🙂

  148. Happened to stop by Willowbrook today and noticed that Rockport and Armani Exchange are coming…will be located on the lower level between Center Court and Bloomingdale’s.

  149. @mallguy,

    Armani Exchange opens in Willowbrook tomorrow, June 22nd, 2010. Just wanted you to know.

  150. @Rich, Thanks! I had noticed they were coming the last time I was up there a couple of months ago.

  151. I hate the newer look of the mall. It’s so cold and uninviting. Call me crazy, but I prefer the original look from many, many years ago.

  152. Interesting…now Willowbrook has a Glee Store…well a big part of Claire’s at least. Only one of three in the world.

  153. I recently moved back to the northern NJ area and visited Willowbrook this afternoon. Wow, has there been some changes in the past 5 years! I think the retail mix is still lacking in a few areas, but overall seems the mall seems to be doing well despite the GGP and economic setbacks. I noticed Pandora and an Orange Julius under construction. not sure about Orange Julius, but Pandora is nice. Hopefully this is a sign of more movement.

    I agree with several comments above… they need to continue pushing “better” retailers in the Bloomies wing. Old Navy doesn’t really fit, but it may be a term issue, I have to assume the management team would be looking to make that change as soon as possible. With the current struggles of GGP, I assume they are not in a position to pay a retailer to relocate a tenant with that amount of square footage. Possibly they are waiting for the right tenant such as Anthropology… just a thought.

    I have several comrads in the retail industry and have heard that several “key” retailers have been looking at expanding to Willowbrook. I hope so.

    On another not I see GGP is close to emerging from bankruptcy and is hiring a new Marketing Manager for this property… maybe a sign of good things to come… stay tuned I guess.

  154. @Retail_Man, Before Old Navy opened there, that was Woolworth. And before Wayne Town Center was torn down, there was an Old Navy in there as well. I am still very surprised that this wing struggles more than other wings of the mall. (and it pains me to see Tattoo Nation in the Bloomingdale’s wing!)

    Willowbrook is in a very competitive region when you consider it is in the true middle of The Mall at Short Hills and Garden State Plaza as those two malls will likely be chosen first.

    It is good news to hear they will be hirng a new marketing manager!

  155. Just saw that American Apparel in Short Hills closed. Saw boards all around it. There might be a strong chance that American Apparel will now open a store in Willowbrook!

  156. @Michael S, I highly doubt this. American Apparel is on the verge of insolvency and mired in accusations of fraudulent accounting as well as sexual harassment/assault charges against Dov Charney. They are likely months away from total bankruptcy.

  157. Stopped over at Willowbrook last weekend & noticed there are few empty stores, I think it was two & one has a sign on it. The funny thing was actually finding Tattoo Nation still in business. We joked about this up in the thred, but seeing it in front of ones eyes could make one scratch their head.

    Wayne TC still has the closed Fortunoff, but the sign is still on the building. Noticed it while driving over to Bahama Breeze from Bloomies.

    One interesting observation is despite the state of WTC, everything around it semes to be holding on including the restaurants & box stores. If the road network was designed differently, WTC’s outcome could have been much more positive. As it is, traversing the lots & the ring roads is a challenge for both padestrians & cars alike.

  158. @SEAN, The stores left in WTC will do fine because it’s next to Willowbrook and at the 46-23-80 intersection. Not surprised. Last time I was in Willowbrook around February, Tatoo Nation was actually crowded.

    Speaking of Fortunoff, there is word about that the former Woodbridge Center Fortunoff will become a new AMC Theater…still waiting on more word for this.

    Also, construction on Bahama Breeze and the Olive Garden has started in the parking lot near Woodbridge Center Drive and Route 1.

  159. @mallguy, Do you have any links you can post reguarding AMC at Woodbridge?

    No chance that one would be a Fork & Screen since Menlo Park is only 2-miles south on Route 1.

    If they do open there, do you realize that would be the fith theatre on or near Route 1 between New Brunswick & linden? Not only that, but AMC would own four of them. The other benefit for this comes from the fact Regal & National Amusements closed or sold theatres on Route 9 not all that far away. This includes theatres in Hazlet & sayreville. I know you are looking at a 15-mile distance here, but there are few good theatres in the Route 9 area vs Route 1.

  160. @SEAN,

    National Amusements closed theaters on Route 35. They never had any on Route 9.

  161. @Michael S, From Cinema Tour web site.

    Amboy Multiplex Cinemas

    Highway 9 & Highway 35
    Sayreville NJ 08872

    Opened: 1979
    Closed: 2005
    Current Use:
    Previously operated by: National Amusements.

  162. @SEAN, Mostly a word of mouth around the community and the fact that the “For Lease” banner has been taken down, but I don’t have any hard evidence…wish I did, though.

    The Route 35 Hazlet Multiplex is still open, yet it is under another company. On the Middesex Co stretch of Route 1, there are 3: Regal Commerce 18, AMC New Brunswick and the Fork and Screen at Menlo Park. MegaMovies at Brunswick Square is about 5 miles from Route 1 on Route 18. There is also a large movie theater in nearby Piscataway/South Plainfield, right off 287, about 4 miles from the Route 1/287 exit. Linden is in Union Co.

    Was glad that Amboy Multiplex closed…it was kind of a divey theatre, plus it was sinking (right on the banks, in the marshes, of the Raritan River…used to be a former drive-in, with the screen facing the Driscoll Bridge. Parkway South and Route 9 South drivers coming over the Raritan River had a clear view!) The Marlboro Cinemas (Regal) were recently demolished in favor of a Costco and the next one along Route 9 is the Freehold Metroplex.

  163. @mallguy, Dallas based Rave Motion Pictures currently opperates the Hazlet theatre. The Regal 8-plex now Costco in Morganville bearly lasted 14-years. National Amusements owned the drive in theatre in Sayreville well before it became the multiplex, same fore the theatres in Valley Stream next to Green Acres Mall.

    Do to Viacom’s ongoing finantial problems, the redstone family was forced to sell half of their National Amusements circuit to raise cash to pay down debt. What remains are only core theatres in metro Boston, Providence, New York & a single theatre outside Cincinatti. Don’t be shocked if the rest of the theatres get sold in the near future to either Rave or AMC.

  164. @SEAN, An interesting note about the National Amusements “Multiplex Cinemas” that operate (under a different name in the case of Hazlet) and once operated, All were Drive-In movie theaters before they became multiplex…the Hazlet Drive in was pushed back from Route 35 and was right in between the area of Costco and the current cinema building, we went over the Amboy Multiplex previously, and the former All Jersey Mulitplex (Newark, between the Turnpike and Routes 1&9, south of exit 15E) was also a drive in, with the screen faceing away from the Turnpike.

    I wouldn’t be surprised about your prediction etiher.

  165. Since Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey, Willowbrook Mall has been closed due to flooding. Here is an aerial photo of the floodwaters. If you look at the treeline at the rear of the mall in the area of Sears, Lord and Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, the Passaic River is right behind those trees. Route 46 is also flooded.

    The Willowbrook Mall website gives constant updates on the status of the mall, when the floodwaters will recede and when the mall will reopen.

  166. @mallguy, Here’s part of a reply i left on the Monmouth Mall page for rob reguarding Willowbrook. Interesting to note how Willowbrook Mall didn’t flood that often & when it did, it wasn’t all that bad. Now it semes every time the Pasaic River goes above flood stage, Willowbrook gets hit & it’s getting worse each time. If that area was being developed today, building codes would require flood nitagation before anything gets constructed.

    I wonder what your thaughts are on this since you live near that area

  167. @SEAN, The first time I remember Willowbrook flooding was in 1999. As you know, the Passiac River literally borders the rear of the parking lot and the mall is not higher up. In fact, before Willowbrook was built, the area was king of swampy and there was little development there, except for a horse riding area/park nearby. When you drive along Route 46 from Fairfield, there is still evidence of the swampiness of the area.

    With the laws today, Willowbrook does not get built, and it is really the only mall in NJ that has these consistent flooding problems.

  168. @mallguy, My most basic question is why has the flooding gottinn so bad in the past few years? What has changed since 2005 or so that caused the Pasaic to become so flood prone. I mean every time it rains now, people become nervis reguarding the flood risk.

    What mesures are Willowbrook & Wayne taking to prevent or at least nittigate future flooding.

  169. @SEAN,

    You have four smaller rivers (Ramapo, Pompton, Peaquannock, Wanaque) that flow into the Passaic right at Wayne. Combine that with continued development (these Route 23 communities were fairly quiet places up until the early 1990s; right about the time the missing link to 287 was completed. To this day, building continues along Route 23 into Northwest Morris County and Southeast Sussex Co, making 23 a terribly congested road during rush hour.

    The current solution is the proposed Passaic River Flood Tunnel, which would divert water from Wayne directly to the Newark Bay, but it’s currently bogged down in lawsuits from environmental groups and won’t be built any time soon.

    And a side note on Wayne; it’s actually quite a large town and the northern areas of Wayne do not face these flooding problems as they’re higher up in elevation…by looking at the two high schools in town, Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley, one can figure out which part of town is more susceptible to flooding.

    Sadly, for now, when the Passaic River crests above flood stage, all there is to do is clear your basement and 1st floor of valuables, get those sandbags ready and get out.

  170. @mallguy, Your discription of Wayne sounds similar to what Mamaroneck NY has been facing over the past few years with flooding. It wasn’t a problem until 2007 when the shelldrake & Mamaroneck rivers flooded not just the town, but a 2-mile stretch of Mamaroneck Avenue up to the Hutchenson River Parkway in Harrison.

  171. @mallguy, Do you know what’s up With Willowbrook & or Wayne TC after Sandy?

  172. @SEAN, Didi you hear that the Paramus Malls are testing the next two Sundays opening the malls. Chris Christie is determined to get the blue laws squashed.

  173. @rob, Really? That’s great! I thaught Christie would never do that, bbut then again Bergen is heavily republican so he can put considerable pressure on local officials to get what he wants. After all blue laws are so rediculous in this day & age

    I haven’t herd anything from you or Mallguy in ages.

  174. @SEAN, Don’t know for sure, but there probably was some flooding in the Willowbrook parking lot.

    Governor Christie is a major opponent of the Blue Laws (has been since he became Governor). The locals, especially those in Paramus, love them. Interesting thing…even with the Blue Laws, the Paramus location of the various chains are some of the most successful in the country. In college, I worked for Nordstrom and their Garden State Plaza location was #1 in the Northeast!

    I had no power or Internet as a result of this storm for 10 days!

  175. @mallguy, Ten days? Wow, that’s a long time considering I was out for just under a week. On Saturday, I went to a favorite restaurant in Westbury that was closed for just under two weeks. They lost all there food & I bet it cost them a fortune in more ways than one.

    Glad to know you are OK.

    Christie can put considerable pressure on the republicans that run Bergen County to remove the blue laws & they will go regardless if the residents want them to stay.

  176. @SEAN, Thanks! Except for no power for 10 days, I survived. Many at the shore were hit particularly hard.

    Bergen County isn’t as Republican as it used to be, but the “Route 4 rule” (south of Route 4=Democrat, north of Route 4=Republican) tends to be the trend, with a few exceptions. The Paramus Blue Laws are actually more stringent than the rest of Bergen County!

  177. @mallguy, Wasn’t aware of the political split in Bergen County.
    Over the past few years, I became friendly with several Bergen residents that work in malls around New Jersey. One of them lives in Rutherford & she amazingly didn’t lose power during Sandy & I can report thankfully that everybody is OK.

  178. Bergen County was once heavily Republican, but (as a whole) has actually been heavily Democratic for about the last 16 years (even Jon Corzine won it in 2009). Mallguy is completly correct, however, when he states that the northern part is still Republican. That is part of Scott Garrett’s Congressional District (the 5th), while the extremely Democratic southern part of the county mostly resides in Bill Pascrell’s district (the 9th). (NJ lost one seat in the United States House of Representatives as a result of the 2010 Census, so before this past election, southern Bergen County was represented by two House Democrats: Pascrell and Steve Rothman; Rothman lost to Pacrell in a bitter primary fight this June.)

  179. @Max, Thanks for the info, I wasn’t aware of that. Hope things are well with you.

    I don’t quite understand why Bergen County in this day & age would still want blue laws since the county has some of the highest property taxes in the US & retail sales would offset those taxes to some degree. The traffic volume that locals bitch about from outsiders like myself is no excuse since Bergen residents also benefit from those same stores.

    Check out this site http://www.walkscore.com. As the name suggests by entering a city name, subdivision, an adress, or zip code, you can find how walkable the area is as well as if it is transit accessable. I point this out because most communities in Bergen County don’t score well on walkability despite faring well with transit. Paeramus falls into this catagory since walking through town is next to impossible despite being onle three square miles. Compare this to nearby Ridgewood where every thing you need is on E Ridgewood Avenue or ajacent streets. The village has frequent train & Bus services including the 163, 164, 171 & 175 to Manhattan as well as the Main/ Bergen lines to Secaucus & Hoboken.

  180. @SEAN, Historically, the Blue Laws also helped to offset the struggling downtowns in the 60s and 70s when the malls were constructed.

    The traffic is truly a mess and the Paramus residents don’t like people like me know the 4/17 cutaround routes on Paramus Road, Century Road, Forest Avenue and Oradell Avenue (these roads also happen to be some of Paramus’s biggest speed traps!) You definitely see the difference on Saturday and Sunday.

    In college I used to work for Nordstrom and back then (and I still think it holds true) the Garden State Plaza store was the most profitable in the Northeast, even with the Sunday closing!

  181. Stopped in Willowbrook briefly today and I’m happy to report that it looks like Tattoo Nation is CLOSED and OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!!! It never belonged there and frankly, I’m glad it’s gone!

    Willowbrook is getting a Michael Kors and a redone Starbucks!

  182. @mallguy, Where have you been! I’m glad Tattoo Nation is out of there as well.

    I linked up some very interesting YouTube videos for your plesure. These include…
    A pare on the Houston Galleria
    A Crestwood Court tour similar to the Source in Westbury
    Toronto’s Eaton Center with a fantastic fountain shot
    Florida mall

    These can be found on there respective pages. In adition, on the Help us page I linked up a news story from Dateline a tour of the South China Mall & Ghost cities.

  183. @Lee, I do remember it now that you mentioned it. Creepy old guy playing the organ

  184. Was at Willowbrook Saturday & boy was it busy! Pink & Victoria’s Secret were remoddling. It looks like VC is expanding as well.

    My GF wanted to eat at Bahama Breeze wich is a fun restaurant to try if you haven’t been there before. Rachael Ray went there for her $40 a day series a few years ago, but it was the Las Vegas location.

  185. @SEAN, Tattoo Nation is gone!!!! (Been that way for a few months) I like Bahama Breeze.

  186. @mallguy, Yeah I enjoy Bahama Breeze as well, but who in Willowbrook’s management finally nieddled Tattoo Nation? It was funny not seeing them there anymore.

    Did you ever notice the different vibe that Willowbrook semes to exude vs Garden State Plaza? Perhaps it’s just me, but the grey prefab block construction that Rouse Malls used early on made buildings seme cold & starel. Paramus Park Mall interestingly with it’s overuse of skylights doesn’t have that issue unlike say Woodbridge Center or the formentioned Willowbrook.

  187. @SEAN, I like Willowbrook very much and the 1989 renovation is a big improvement on what was there. That said, I did like the previous design of Willowbrook. The original center court fountain was a classic and I’m saddened that they took the renovated fountain (under the escalators) out 10 years ago. I was also saddened when they took out the decorative lighting a few years ago. Overall renovation-wise, Woodbridge hasn’t been touched since 1987. Between Willowbrook, Paramus Park, Columbia (MD), Christiana (DE) and White Marsh (MD) I do notice many similarities.

  188. @mallguy, What those Rouse centers have in common are two things…

    1. General layout including uneven levels. You’ll find this in such malls as Woodbridge Center near the main entrance, also at Willowbrook on the upper level at the entrance to Bloomingdale’s where it is nessessary to go up a few steps to get into the store. This makes this area inaccessable, wich obviously is against current building codes.

    2. The formentioned prefab construction.

    Willowbrook has two other interesting design querks, the first is the enormus food cort that is on two levels & is somewhat cermetricle with a bumpout that goes around Sbarro. Also take note of the ramp that splits in two directions making it easier to reach any point within the food court. The other relates to the placement of the three NJ transit stops in the parking lot. Unlike say GSP where there is a designated transit platform with a walking path, at Willowbrook bbusses pull up at the shelters in the drive isles while cars zoom in both directions & there isn’t a real safe path to reach the mall. The GSP setup is imperfect, but is alot safer for padestrians.

  189. @SEAN, Prior to the renovation in the 1980s and the Lord and Taylor addition (which used to be Orbach’s/Steinbach) there were other parts where the levels were uneven. In center court, there was a seating area which was five steps lower and was also the area where the waterfall of the fountain emptied. The upper level of Steinbach required you to go up steps (changed with Lord and Taylor…you can notice it with the ramp toward the store) and part of the 2nd floor was “tunneled off” from the atrium. The food court was also added after the 1980s renovation. There could have been a ramp in that hall, but that was a while and I don’t remember.

  190. @mallguy, What you described in the beginning of your last post sounds alot like the upper level of the center court at Woodbridge Centre with the step down seating areas.

    Before Willowbrook had the food court, was that another retail space? Or was that an adition built in the 1980’s. The decor of the food court doesn’t match the rest of the structure.

  191. @SEAN, Yes, those seating areas are still there. From what I remember, the Willowbrook food court was a simple hallway with small stores leading to the parking lot. When the 1980s renovation was completed, the food court was called “Waterside Picnic.” Steinbach also had an entrance to the food court and Lord and Taylor had it for a few years before closing it off about 10-12 years ago.

  192. @mallguy, It’s interesting to see the placement of the Willowbrook mall in relation to the other centers that are around it including Wayne TC as the article notes.

    I knew the surface lot was huge, but wow. you cant traverse it on foot safely do to the nearby ring road. Beyond Bahama Breeze & a few other retail buildings, there’s so much dead acreage that it is just rediculous to see all that valuable real estate lie fallow. Perhaps the floodplane issue we discussed upthread plays a roll in this? We already know that the mall would never get built in that location today, so how do you ballence the need for continued redevelopment in a flood zone? I’ll bet on every building around there the insurance premiums must have gone up substantially since 2007 & has risen even more after Sandy.

  193. Haven’t been to Willowbrook in a while, anyone know what new stores are on the way? My sister said Ann Taylor is relocating to a new spot and a Sur La Table is moving into their space in the Macy’s wing, and Pink by Victoria’s Secret is taking the J.Jill space. Anything else?

  194. Hands down, Willowbrook is my favorite mall in New Jersey, I have many fond memories as a mallrat here from around 2006-2009 when my friends and I used to practically live at both the mall and the Legendary Fun n Games arcade on the weekends. I even remember going as a kid when Bloomies was still Sterns and there was Wizards of the Coast on the top floor. I will admit though, I am rather disappointed with the changes the mall has made over the past 5-7 years such as closing all three Gamestops (except the worst one), the Hollywood video, two FYE stores and last but not least the Legendary Fun n Games arcade (which has sat vacant for the past 6 years). On a side note, why all the hate for Tattoo Nation? I know it was out of place, but I did know some truly cool people who worked there. Sadly, although the mall does seem to be doing fairly well it is but a shell of its former self, a generic plethora of various clothing stores and kiosks. However, due to the fact that I have many fond memories there Willowbrook will always be my favorite mall in New Jersey.

  195. My memories of Willowbrook Mall. I remember being in complete awe when the mall first opened and I saw the center court for the first time. All the water and stairs going every which way. I loved the Asian import store next to Bamberger’s. (Wish I could remember the name of it.) There was a knish fast food place called Zum Zums. I remember Smuggler’s attic. I remember the two level parking area and coming into the mall from the lower area and seeing an actual drug bust in progress. I remember JM Towne. I remember a clothing store in the middle of the Sterns wing. It had three floors, and you could get upstairs in the mall through it. There was a restaurant called Lorry’s in the Stern’s wing. I remember Spencer Gifts with the black light poster section in the back. I remember No Name and another clothing store with a weird floor that your toes kind of sunk into in places. There was a kiosk in the Sears wing that I think had a candy store on one side but definitely had a glass blower on the other.

  196. Visited Willowbrook (first time in a couple of months) and surprise, surprise, they have just begun a two year renovation. Have only seen one rendering, so far, and that is of center court and what I get from seeing that is bye-bye fountain. 🙁

    They have gotten started and it looks pretty good. In the Macy’s and Sears wings, the ceilings are being arched to meet the skylights and the flooring is being changed to an off-white and gray combination (not too bad, but I like what they currently have better…similar to the new tile design in Menlo Park)

    The plans they have seem cool though – two story outdoor streetscape (didn’t say where, but that’s a brave idea considering the mall is located on a flood plain next to the Passaic River) new glass handrails for the Bloomingdales wing and better lighting. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  197. @Mallguy, Yes – this should be interesting. My main concern is the fact that the flood plain issue hasn’t been solved & yet GGP management chooses to focus it’s attention on the streetscape instead? Something is really off here.

  198. @SEAN, If they put that streetscape on the backside of the Bloomingdales wing (where the park and ride to NYC is) they are asking for problems, as the Passiac River isn’t too far from that parking lot. Last significant flood in that area was maybe 4/5 years ago. No damage to the mall, but it was closed for a week and route 46 was flooded up to the route 23 interchange!

  199. @Mallguy, Most certainly they are asking for trouble. When the Pasaic river use to flood, most of the issues were centered near Little Falls & near rt 23. But since 2007, flooding has been getting worse in & around Willowbrook. Things really came to a head after Sandy hit in 2012 when the flood waters penetrated the mall it self & yet as I posted above, nothing has been done to fix it.

    Based on recent weather events around the country in the past few years, it won’t be a question if there will be a Sandy redux, but when.

  200. @mallguy I actually stopped at Willowbrook customer service to get some clarification on the “streetscape” plans. Everyone seems to have misinterpreted that as an outdoor lifestyle addition to the mall, when in actuality its an interior architecture change mean to feel like you’re walking down a city street. They aren’t adding any space to the mall, its an interior and exterior update. Also wanted to mention, that the interior of the mall, has never flooded, even during Hurricane Sandy, the parking lot and surrounding access roads all flooded, preventing access.

  201. @Jacquie, thanks for the clarification. I still don’t get what an indoor streetscape would look like, but I’ll wait for the construction to progress. Yes, it never flooded inside, but the parking lot flooding did force the mall to close for a few days.

  202. @Mallguy, I made the same mistake as you did.

    An indoor streetscape? Seriously – streetscapes imply externalrenovations. This is something completely different, so I’m having a bit of trouble rapping my head around this concept.

  203. I don’t think they’re going to touch the Bloomingdales wing and center court until after the holidays. Ceiling, flooring and lighting in the Sears wing is almost done, they are currently working on the Macy’s wing – drop ceilings ripped out and soon to be arched, flooring is just getting started. Really interested in seeing what this concept of indoor streetscape will be.

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