EATONTOWN, NJ – There are big changes on the horizon for Monmouth Mall:
First, Kushner Cos., the property developer and owner of the Monmouth Mall, wants to demolish the existing three-story car park on the site.
In its place, Kushner plans to build a flat parking lot, in the same location as the parking lot. However, the car park will accommodate far fewer cars: The overall number of parking spaces will be reduced by 638 spaces.
“This is a former parking lot that has deteriorated over time and has been deemed unsafe for pedestrians and vehicles,” said Michael Sommer, vice president of development and construction at Kushner Cos.
This month, Kushner Cos. asked the City of Eatontown to approve his request to demolish the garage; Eatontown will issue a decision in March.
Second, demolishing the parking lot is actually part of Kushner Cos’ larger plan. to reduce retail space in the Monmouth Mall by 25,000 square feet. The company has yet to describe how it will reduce the size of the mall and where the disposals will take place.
“As you know, there are a lot of vacancies at the mall,” Sommer told Patch on Thursday.
Kushner Cos. is owned by Jared Kushner, son-in-law of former President Donald Trump. The company was started by Charles Kushner and the Kushners are the developers of Pier Village in Long Branch. Charles Kushner and his wife still live in Long Branch to this day.
Third, last year the City of Eatontown declared the mall “an area in need of redevelopment.” This means that the borough will create a redevelopment plan, which will most likely alter what is built at the mall. Depending on what this redevelopment plan says, it may also change the zoning of the mall, perhaps adding residential zoning.
Eatontown has previously stated that it would be acceptable to have residential units in the mall: in 2018, the city approved Kushner Cos. to build 700 apartments in the mall; there was a significant pushback from residents who lived nearby. But this proposal is currently on the back burner.
“We haven’t backed down from (this idea),” Sommer warned Thursday. “However, in the current retail environment, we need to determine what are the highest and best uses for the mall. In terms of our overall vision (for Monmouth Mall), we are planning a significant redevelopment for the remaining retail and other businesses on-site, to be successful not just today, but long-term into the future.”
There was also a plan to build outdoor pedestrian corridors and outdoor plazas at the mall, but that idea was also scrapped by the developer.
Last spring, Kushner Cos. took full ownership of Monmouth Mall, buying out its partner Brookfield Properties, the Asbury Park Press.
According to this report in The Real Deal, Brookfield and Kushner both defaulted on a loan at the start of the pandemic, when all businesses in the state were forced to close, putting the entire mall at immediate risk of foreclosure . But Kushner then bought a $110 million loan for the property at auction, saving the mall and becoming the sole owner.
Although Kushner Cos. has made it clear that it wants to retain ownership of the shopping centre, what does the future hold for Monmouth Shopping Centre? That remains to be seen.
Construction is also underway on an RWJBarnabas Health outpost at the mall. It is planned to be a two-building medical complex next to the Boscovs. It will provide pediatric care, women’s health, emergency care and family welfare.
The first building is expected to open in the coming months, Sommer said.
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