Kushner demolishing zombie department stores at Monmouth Mall

Remaining retail portion will become open-air, 1K apartments coming

Kushner Demolishing Zombie Stores at Monmouth Mall
Kushner Companies CEO Laurent Morali and 180 NJ-35 in Eatontown (Google Maps, Getty)

Department stores so deserted that “The Walking Dead” once literally walked their floors are set to be torn down by Kushner Companies.

Kushner will demolish the vacant department stores of the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown as soon as this month, NJ.com reported. The action will make way for the addition of 1,000 apartments on the site, as well as enable the “de-malling” of the remaining property into an open-air facility, rather than the enclosed space it is today.

If demolition doesn’t begin by the end of the month, it will likely start in mid-May at the latest, according to Kushner executive Brayan Silva.

Lord & Taylor, the first department store to be torn down, occupied 150,000 square feet before shutting down the location in 2018, two years before the company filed for bankruptcy. Construction on the apartments to replace the store will likely begin by summer or early fall.

The mall’s JCPenney shut down in 2022, two years after the company’s retail operations were purchased out of bankruptcy; its segment will be demolished, along with a vacant stretch of the mall that is now frequented by local power walkers. The sections of the mall that aren’t being torn down are expected to remain open during the demolition process.

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The mall will be shrunk 40 percent by the demolition, from 1.5 million square feet to 900,000 square feet. The shopping center will be open-air and include restaurants, stores, apartments, outdoor walking space and 115,000 square feet of medical offices.

The Monmouth Mall dates back to 1960, when it opened as a 650,000-square-foot shopping center. Fifteen years later, its store count tripled from 50 to 150 and at one point it was one of the 10 biggest enclosed shopping centers in the nation.

But the mall has fallen on hard times. Its retail space is 40 percent vacant, picking enough cobwebs and eerie vibes to be chosen as a filming location for “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.”

At an auction three years ago, Kushner bought a $110 million loan collateralized by its mall. A joint venture between Kushner and Brookfield Property Partners had defaulted on the Royal Bank of Canada loan at the start of the pandemic.

It’s become commonplace for American shopping malls to be redeveloped into properties with a housing component. More than half of the 153 mall redevelopments analyzed by JLL in 2022 included housing.

Holden Walter-Warner

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