The oldest mall in New Jersey is Garden State Plaza which opened in 1957. The biggest mall now of course is American Dream in East Rutherford. The Cherry Hill Mall is said to be the first fully enclosed air-conditioned mall in the whole Northeast.

But for people in Central Jersey there was always something special about Monmouth Mall. It’s the fourth oldest in the state and the fifth biggest. It opened on March 1, 1960. It has 1,500,000 square feet.

And for all the love given it over all the years, it’s now coming close to a zombie mall.  At the end of this article you’ll see pictures of what it looked like on its last Christmas Eve before major demolition and development is set to begin in 2024.

Like so many malls, it fell victim to changing shopping patterns and is now reinventing itself.

Photo via ipopba
Photo via ipopba
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Like so many malls it fell victim to changing shopping patterns and is now reinventing itself. The owner, a New York-based real estate developer called Kushner Companies, confirmed huge portions of the mall, but not all, will be demolished beginning in March. The JCPenney and Lord & Taylor will be turned to dust.

What’s going in? Luxury apartments. 1,000 of them.

“Needless to say, retail has changed and we don’t think it will ever go back to the way things were,” Michael Sommer, a chief development officer with Kushner, told nj.com. “So, we feel the best use is a true town center environment — that walkable type of environment where people can live, dine, and shop all on one property.”

Mike Brant - TSM
Mike Brant - TSM
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New luxury home development

Imagine living in your luxury home where your bed may be resting on the exact spot where 20 years ago the changing room at Lord & Taylor stood.

Things are really coming full circle. “When the shopping center was originally built, ironically, it was constructed as an open air shopping center, similar to the arrangement we are bringing back now,” said Sommer. “It was only in its second life that the mall was enclosed.”

It will become a mix of stores and restaurants and in addition to those 1,000 luxury homes will be 115,000 square feet of medical office space. Interior hallways will be replaced by outdoor walking areas. It’s quite an undertaking for the classic, beloved mall in Eatontown.

Many will be sad to see it change. But can it really be sadder than the desolate look and lack of business it is bearing now?

Enjoy a look at some fine photos taken a few days ago on Christmas Eve to get a great sense of what Monmouth Mall has become and why it’s reinventing itself. It seems the mall is in two sections, one called entirely abandoned and the other called almost entirely abandoned.

A sad, desolate look at NJ's Old Monmouth Mall

It was the last Christmas Eve for New Jersey's Monmouth Mall in Eatontown before major redevelopment in 2024. Here's what it looked like on that day.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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