2008-01-03 / Front Page

Monmouth Mall seeks approval for expansion

Hearings on project set to continue at Jan. 14 Planning Board meeting
BY DANIEL HOWLEY Staff Writer

EATONTOWN - The owner of Monmouth Mall is seeking approval from the borough Planning Board for a series of expansion projects at the Route 35 site.

Vornado Realty Trust, which owns Monmouth Mall, is planning to build four additional structures on the mall property to house several businesses, including restaurants, a bookstore and a jewelry store, according to plans on file at the planning and zoning office.

Testimony on the application is scheduled to continue at the Jan. 14 Planning Board meeting.

Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo said last week that the borough supports the proposed project.

"You have got to understand that we are in competition with other communities and malls throughout the county and state," Tarantolo

said. "You have to remain competitive, and one way to do that is to bring in more and better commercial enterprises.

"With the expansion, we expect that to happen," he said, adding, "We expect

new companies that will be doing business here and in

turn bring in more new

customers."

Tarantolo explained

that the planned expansion

will help raise the

mall's tax ratable.

"The more taxes the

mall pays, the less taxes the residents will pay," he said. "The mall is doing renovations and expanding.

"They are also upgrading the types of commercial entities that will be purchasing and renting space in the mall, and we should be getting new, more attractive ratables that will be a part of the complex," Tarantolo said.

The mall is the borough's largest taxpayer, according to Tarantolo, who said the entity contributes between $4 million and $5 million in taxes annually.

Preliminary site plans have been approved for two of the four structures planned for the expansion project. Testimony on the final two structures is scheduled to be heard at the Jan. 14 meeting.

A groundbreaking date for the project will be set after all plans have been approved, according to Zoning Officer Peggy Ciok.

Michael Zucker, senior director of leasing for Vornado Realty Trust, declined to comment last week on the project.

Monmouth Mall is currently the state's fifth largest mall, encompassing approximately 103 acres on Route 35 in Eatontown. The mall contains over 150 stores and a 15-screen movie theater.

Plans for the proposed expansion project call for an additional 113,824 square feet of retail and restaurant space to be constructed on the site of the already 1.5 million-square-foot structure, according to the application.

The project is broken down into four categories titled A through D to represent each of the four proposed structures. Plans call for structures A and B to be constructed attached to the mall building, and structures C and D to be separate structures on the mall site.

The preliminary site plans for sites A and C were approved by the Planning Board in November.

The testimony on preliminary site plans for the sites designated as B and D are expected to be heard at the Jan. 14 meeting.

Plans for site A call for the construction of a 50,000-square-foot building to be located adjacent to the mall's parking deck and Boscov's Department Store.

When the plans for site A were approved, the application included plans for a Dick's Sporting Goods business to occupy the space, Ciok said, adding that since the approval in November, the sporting goods store pulled out of the project.

The project for site A is now on hold until a new tenant can be found, at which point the site plan will need to be approved again, according to Ciok.

Plans also include a 30,452-squarefoot structure, designated as site B.

According to Tarantolo, the space will be occupied by a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Site C is planned to be a 14,202- square-foot structure located on the outskirts of the mall's parking lot, bordering Route 35.

Plans for site C call for a Jared's jewelry store, a Fresh City restaurant and a Bobby's Burger Palace restaurant to be tenants of the building.

Site D will be a 14,000-square-foot pad site, also located on the outskirts of the mall parking lot, and will house two tenants, according to plans on file at the planning and zoning office.

There are no confirmed tenants proposed for site D at this time, according to Ciok.

Return to top