New Jersey

Struggling NJ Mall Owners Looking at ‘All Possible Uses'

Only a handful of tenants now remain at the mall, and several have said they plan to leave this month

photo inside Phillipsburg Mall
Flickr/Mike Kalasnik

The owners of a struggling New Jersey mall say they're looking at “all possible uses" for the property, which has lost several anchor stores in recent years.

The president of Mason Asset Management, Elliot Nassim, told last week that there’s been interest from potential buyers for the 76-acre property straddling Lopatcong and Pohatcong townships. But he says there's no firm deal and there's no timeline in place until all active leases at the mall have expired.

Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group bought the 577,000-square-foot Phillipsburg Mall in 2013 for $11.5 million, but J.C. Penney closed the following year. The mall has since lost anchors Sears and The Bon-Ton, after which the owners demolished those two spaces.

Lopatcong Mayor James Mengucci told WFMZ-TV that he's heard from a group interested in using the property for warehouses, He says he's not sure that's the best option but officials are open to suggestions. Pohatcong Mayor Dave Slack said officials there would also entertain the idea, but he's sure “it wouldn't be without much review and some traffic studies." The property isn't zoned for warehouses and any plan would need the townships' approval.

Both mayors said they have had limited communication with the owners. Nassim told the station in a statement that possible uses “including those outside of retail" were being explored.

“We have fielded interest from potential buyers and look forward to updating you on the details of a final deal as soon as we’re able," he said. “Our goal remains to identify the best solution for the property and its surrounding community."

Only a handful of tenants now remain at the mall, and several have said they plan to leave this month. Nassim said his group doesn't own the property block that includes the remaining anchor, Kohl's, so the department store's fate remains unclear. Kohl’s didn't immediately return a request for comment, said.

Until there is a deal, Nassim said he doesn't have a price tag for the redevelopment plan, he said.

“We will keep the mall running optimally until final decisions have been made,” he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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