The Bergen Town Center as seen in 2012.
|Location||1 Bergen Town Center |
Paramus, New Jersey, USA, 07652
|Opening date||November 14, 1957 (outdoor plaza)|
September 16, 1973 (enclosed mall)
August 25, 2009 (Major Renovation/Expansion)
|Owner||Urban Edge Properties|
|No. of stores and services||100|
|No. of anchor tenants||1|
|Total retail floor area||917,129 sq ft (85,204.1 m2)|
|No. of floors||1 (4 in Old Sterns/Macy's Bldg, Now occupied by Home Goods/Bloomingdale's-The Outlet Store(1), Century 21(2,3), and Lincoln Tech (4)|
|Public transit access||NJ Transit bus: 168, 171, 751, 752, 753, 755, 756|
The Outlets at Bergen Town Center is a shopping center located in Bergen County, New Jersey, USA. The center consists of both an indoor mall and exterior outlying stores and occupies over 105 acres split between the municipalities of Paramus and Maywood.
The center, which was built as the Bergen Mall, opened in 1957 as one of several regional large-scale outdoor shopping centers rolled out nationwide, and was the largest of its kind at the time of its opening. It is the second-oldest mall in New Jersey. The mall offers a gross leasable area (GLA) of 917,129 sq ft (85,204.1 m2). The mall is located at the junction of Route 4 and Forest Avenue, and includes a separate shopping strip, south of Route 4 connected to the rest of the property via a pedestrian bridge. The mall has over the years included community spaces, including a chapel, theater for live dramas, post office, auditorium, ice rink, bowling alley and a children's amusement ride area, and is the current location of the Bergen County Museum. The Bergen Mall was designed by John Graham of New York City. The mall is subject to Bergen County's blue laws, which requires the mall to be closed on Sundays, except for some restaurants and other non-clothing establishments.
The mall was first planned in 1955 by Allied Stores to have 100 stores and 8,600 parking spaces in a 1.5 million ft2 mall that would include a 300,000 sq ft (28,000 m2) Stern's store and two other 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) department stores as part of the initial design. Allied's chairman B. Earl Puckett announced The Bergen Mall as the largest of ten proposed centers, stating that there were 25 cities that could support such centers and that no more than 50 malls of this type would be built nationwide. The mall opened on November 14, 1957 with great fanfare, as Dave Garroway, host of The Today Show served as master of ceremonies. Bergen Mall got its second anchor when a 135,000 sq ft (12,500 m2) Ohrbach's location opened on August 17, 1967.
In July 1972, the owners of the Bergen Mall announced that they would begin converting the facility from an outdoor shopping plaza with a vast number of stores to an enclosed structure with all of these stores operating under one roof; the new mall would be anchored by Stern's at one end of the enclosed structure and Ohrbach's at the other. This was part of a general trend underway at the time where large-scale outdoor centers, like the Bergen Mall, had been for its first fifteen years and Garden State Plaza, which had been commissioned by R.H. Macy and Company and opened in 1957, was at the time, were no longer as popular while massive indoor facilities, like the Fashion Center (which opened in 1967) in Paramus and Willowbrook Mall (which opened in 1968) in Wayne, were becoming more and more popular. On September 15, 1973, the renovated mall held its grand reopening. Unlike its other regional counterparts, however, the Bergen Mall did not make attempts to modernize its look as the years wore on and proceeded to look dated.
In 1986, the Bergen Mall lost one of its two anchors when Ohrbach's closed its doors following a takeover by the Amcena retail group. Amcena reconfigured the store, as well as the other Ohrbach's stores it opted to keep, and it reopened in 1987 as part of the company's Steinbach chain. The store was converted to Value City in 1997 and later closed and demolished in the mid-2000s.
In the early 90's the mall was repositioned as a value-oriented center that included a Marshalls, Gap Outlet, and a Saks 5th Avenue Off 5th outlet. Across the street from the main mall is a little strip mall that was part of the mall property. It is located across from Forest Avenue and was connected with an auto and a pedestrian bridge. A Chuck E. Cheese's opened in the little strip mall in 1993. It remained in operation until closure in November 2010 when they planned to demolish the center for redevelopment of the area. They relocated to the Shoppes at IV in 2011. The site of the Chuck E. Cheese's is now a Red Robin restaurant.  Other tenants in the strip mall were Spa 2 (closed 2004; replaced by REI) and Shop Rite. The Shop Rite store closed in 1998 and was moved to its current location on Route 4 near the mall. Kirkland's Furniture currently occupies the former Shop Rite space in the strip mall.
Another major change came to the mall in 2001, and this involved the store it had been built around. In 1992, Stern's owner Allied Stores merged with Federated Department Stores. Two years later, Federated acquired R.H. Macy and Company out of bankruptcy. This gave Federated the position of having three different properties being anchors at the three major Paramus malls. In addition to Stern's and the A&S store co-anchoring Paramus Park, the acquisition gave Federated control of the Macy's store at Westfield Garden State Plaza.
In 1995, the year after acquiring Macy's, Federated decided to discontinue their A&S brand and converted the Paramus Park location to a Macy's to give them a second location in Paramus. Six years later, they made a similar decision to retire the Stern's brand and the Bergen Mall flagship joined most of its other sibling stores and was rebranded as Macy's. Federated did not keep the store open much longer, however, electing to liquidate it in 2005 and focus on their other two Paramus locations. Shortly after, the Macy's was converted into a Century 21 store.
The Bergen Mall was the target of a lawsuit by nuclear-freeze advocates who challenged the mall's restrictions on distribution of literature to shoppers. On October 12, 1984, Bergen County Superior Court judge Paul R. Huot ruled that the organization should be allowed to distribute literature anywhere and anytime in a shopping mall, noting that "the Bergen Mall has assumed the features and characteristics of the traditional town center for the citizens who reside in Paramus and surrounding Bergen County towns."
The Carmelite Chapel of St. Therese was located in the basement section called "The Village" since 1970, modeled after the Carmelite location in the basement of Northshore Mall, which opened in 1960. It moved to the upper level in 2007 when the center was redesigned. The chapel had masses daily from Monday-Saturday. However, since the mall is closed on Sundays, the chapel was closed and did not provide Sunday masses. The chapel also housed a gift shop which was located next to the chapel entrance. The chapel closed its doors on March 1, 2017, which was the final mass held inside the chapel.
Bergen Mall was also the first stop on MCA Records's "The Beautiful You: Celebrating The Good Life Shopping Mall Tour '87" starring teen pop sensation Tiffany as an alternative way to promote her debut album.
In one of the first changes planned for the mall, Century 21 opened on August 10, 2006, taking 67,500 sq ft (6,270 m2) of space in the old Stern's/Macy's building. Century 21 occupies the middle two floors of the four story building (1&2), while Home Goods/Bloomingdale's-The Outlet Store occupy the Lower Level (LL) and Lincoln Tech occupies the 3rd floor (3).
On November 30, 2006, the Paramus Planning Board approved a series of changes that would bring the mall up to 1,500,000 sq ft (140,000 m2) at a cost of $171 million. The mall was renamed to Bergen Town Center, and was planned to include 872,000 sq ft (81,000 m2) of renovated mall retail space and a 167,000 sq ft (15,500 m2) freestanding big-box store across Forest Avenue in Maywood, Lowe's which opened in January 2011. A total of 4,339 parking spaces, including a five-story parking garage, will be provided.
New additions in 2009 include Target (Opened March 7, 2009), a Wetzel's Pretzels, Subway, Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin' Donuts, Verizon Wireless, an AT&T store, and a Whole Foods (which opened on August 19, 2009 and signed a lease for 77,000 sq ft (7,200 m2).), Filene's Basement (opened October 28, 2007, since closed and replaced by Home Goods which opened in October 2013.), Lowe's, Nike Factory Store (opened March 7, 2009), Bobby Flay's Bobby's Burger Palace (opened March 31, 2009), and Nordstrom Rack (Opened March 12, 2009). A Grand Opening Celebration was held on August 25, 2009 to mark the completion of the renovation/expansion. Filene's Basement filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, May 4, 2009. An affiliate of Men's Wearhouse has won the bidding process, with plans to keep approximately 20 of the chain's stores open. The five-year-old Filene's at Bergen Town Center is one of six stores that closed as part of the transaction. In October 2013, Home Goods opened in the space formerly occupied by Filene's Basement. This is their second location in Paramus, the other being on NJ-17 near Ridgewood Ave. H&M will be opening its third Paramus location at Bergen Town Center Holiday 2013. The 27,000 sq. feet two-level store will be larger than the H&M stores at Westfield Garden State Plaza and Paramus Park and will be located at the center of the mall next to J. Crew Outlet.
In 2015, it has been confirmed that the mall will undergo a $130 million 200,000 square foot expansion, which will include adding another level to the mall and new tenants.
In January 2018, it was announced that the Best Buy location at nearby Westfield Garden State Plaza would close and be relocated to the Outlets at Bergen Town Center property next to the strip mall. It opened on April 14, 2018.  In June 2018, it was announced that a Burlington Coat Factory store would go above Marshall's and would occupy space that used to house the Chapel on the mall as well as some mall offices. The mall celling between Saks OFF 5th and Marshall's is expected to be raised so that escalators and an elevator are able to reach the store which is scheduled to open in Spring of 2019. Also, Pei Wei Asian Diner and Potbelly Sandwich closed in the mall to make way for Ruth's Chris Steak House, which opened in November 2018. It was also announced that the current bridge that connects the mall and the other shops on the other side would be replaced. The former Midas Tire shop is also expected with a new restaurant that is yet to be determined. The work on the Parking Deck near Marshalls and Saks OFF 5th and the bridge are all expected to be complete by September 2018.
Playhouse on the Mall
From 1960 to 1982, the mall included the Playhouse on the Mall, a 635-seat theater. The developer, Allied Stores, was persuaded to build the theater by producer (and future novelist) Robert Ludlum, who managed the theater from 1960 to 1970. Productions included a mix of Broadway revivals (The Best Man, Two for the Seesaw, A Little Night Music) and pre-Broadway tryouts (The Typists and the Tiger, The Owl and the Pussycat), and attracted a variety of movie, television, and Broadway talent. The theater's most successful production was an annual stop by Ann Corio's This Was Burlesque revue. The theater closed in the face of rising costs and dwindling audiences, and was converted to retail space in 1986.
- While the mall was under renovation in 2008, a wall in the mall collapsed, which injured two guests. They were hospitalized afterwards.
- In 2014, two boys and a man were injured from a falling glass. It fell about 30 feet from a balcony barrier on the second floor and shattered in front of the Old Navy outlet store. The boys were hospitalized and the man received a bandage.
- "The Super Centers". Time. January 24, 1955. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
The new centers, scheduled for opening by 1957, are designed to serve regions (i.e., customers within 40 minutes' driving time) rather than smaller suburban areas. The first to go into operation will be the $30 million Bergen Mall at Paramus, N.J., expected to be the biggest U.S. shopping center. Puckett estimates that there are 1,588,000 customers within the 40-minute radius.
- lBergen Mall's makeover approved, The Record (Bergen County), December 1, 2006
- International Council of Shopping Centers: Bergen Mall, accessed November 6, 2006 Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Ice Skating Is Nice Skating Indoors or Out", The New York Times, January 21, 1977. p. 63
- Strum, Charles (November 3, 1993). "Sunday-Closing Law Retained in New Jersey County". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-25.
Efforts to repeal the 34-year-old ban on Sunday retailing in Bergen County, one of the country's richest shopping areas, were turned back easily today. ... Even if the county laws had been repealed, stores in Paramus would have remained closed because the community enforces its own ordinances against Sunday shopping and has vowed not to lift them
- "10 Shopping Centers Scheduled For Allied Stores Within 3 Years; Chain's Chairman Gives Details of Biggest, 7 Miles From George Washington Span, Where Stern Will Open Branch by '57: Store Chain Plans 10 Retails Centers", The New York Times, January 13, 1955. p. 37
- "Shoppers Throng to Opening of Bergen Mall in Jersey". The New York Times. November 15, 1957. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
The 106-acre Bergen Mall regional shopping center here will open Thursday morning. The center, at which Stern's will be the principal-store, is being built by the Allied Stores Corporation at a cost of $40,000,000. It is at Route 4 and Forest Avenue.
- Barmash, Isadore (August 18, 1967). "E.J. Korvette and Ohrbach's Open New Stores; Ohrbach's Opens Paramus Store. Shoppers in Jersey Happy With Bergen Mall Addition". The New York Times, p. 20
- "Bergen Mall to Be Enclosed Next Year", The New York Times, July 9, 1972. p. 62
- "Enclosure of Bergen Mall Is Progressing; A Change in Thinking Construction Began in '56", The New York Times, June 10, 1973. p. 82
- "$1-Million Roofed Mall Opens in Bergen; Tax Case Is Pending", The New York Times, September 16, 1973. p. 93
- "Jersey judge orders leaflet distribution in mall at any time.", The New York Times, October 21, 1984. p. A.49
- Called Out of the Basement to Higher Ground
- Mall chapel in Paramus preparing to celebrate last Mass NorthJersey.com. Accessed February 15, 2017.
- Century 21 Department Store Announces August 10th, 2006 Grand Opening of its Newest Designer Label Discount Megastore at Bergen Mall, Paramus, NJ, press release dated August 4, 2006
- Demarrais, Kevin G. "Organic grocer to open in Paramus", The Record, August 4, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2007. "The company, which claims to be the nation's largest natural and organic retailer, confirmed Wednesday that it has signed a lease for a 77,000-square-foot (7,200 m2) store at the Bergen Mall as part of its national expansion."
- Schoonmaker, Mary Ellen. "Called out of the basement to higher ground", The Record, August 2, 2007. Accessed August 30, 2007. "With Whole Foods, Lowe's, Filene's Basement and Target coming, the mall will be more sophisticated and more crowded."
- Men's Wearhouse unit wins Filene's Basement bid
- Bergen Town Center mall in Paramus is preparing for a $130 million expansion NorthJersey.com. Accessed December 15, 2015.
- Best Buy relocation creates opening for new moves at Garden State Plaza NorthJersey.com January 17, 2018.
- Garvie, Glenn. "Remembering Playhouse on the Mall". www.bergencounty.com. (201) Magazine. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
- Wall collapse at Bergen mall injures Elmwood Park couple NJ.com. Accessed August 3, 2015.
- Falling glass injures 3 at Bergen Town Center in Paramus NorthJersey.com. Accessed August 3, 2015
- The Outlets at Bergen Town Center Official web site
- Bergen Town Center, International Council of Shopping Centers
- The Mall on MySpace
- Labelscar, the Retail History Site History of Bergen Mall