Garden State Parkway and East Midland Road
Paramus, New Jersey

The Borough of Paramus, New Jersey became a major retail hub in the mid-20th century, with four mall-type centers being built within the jurisdiction. GARDEN STATE PLAZA and BERGEN MALL opened for business in 1957. FASHION CENTER made its debut in 1967. Maryland's Rouse Company developed Paramus' fourth shopping mall in a joint venture with the Connecticut General Insurance Company.

PARAMUS PARK occupied 66 acres, located 14 miles northwest of New York City's Times Square. Encompassing 755,000 leasable square feet and one hundred and twenty stores and services, the predominantly single-level structure held its grand opening March 14, 1974.

The fully-enclosed shopping facility housed the nation's first successful shopping mall Food Court. Known as Pic-Nic In the Park, it was situated on a mezzanine overlooking a center mall Atrium. This bucolic gathering place featured a 2-story waterfall surrounded by a terraced tropical garden.

In fact, the entire common area of PARAMUS PARK was an open (but enclosed) space, illuminated with skylights and featuring tree-lined promenades and park-bench seating. This was in a time when the standard, newly-built shopping mall consisted of dimly-lit corridors with virtually no natural lighting.

PARAMUS PARK was originally anchored by a 3-level (289,000 square foot), New York City-based Abraham & Straus, which was dedicated along with the mall. A 2-level (170,000 square foot) Sears welcomed its first shoppers in August 1974.

Charter inline tenants included Kinney Shoes, Harmony Hut Records, Record Town, B. Dalton Bookseller and Size 5-7-9 Shops. The original Pic-Nic In the Park included Chick-Fil-A, Magic Pan Creperie, Swiss Colony, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream and a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour.

Other malls in the PARAMUS PARK trade area included the aforementioned GARDEN STATE PLAZA (1957) {2.3 miles south}, BERGEN MALL (1957) {2.6 miles southeast} and FASHION CENTER (1967) {.50 of a mile northwest}. There were also WILLOWBROOK MALL (1969) {10.7 miles southwest, in Wayne} and RIVERSIDE SQUARE MALL (1977) {3.7 miles southeast, in Hackensack}.

Unlike several other regional shopping centers developed by The Rouse Company, PARAMUS PARK was not physically expanded during the 1980s and '90s. Moreover, the shopping hub has had only one anchor store rebranding over its long history. Abraham & Straus was shuttered April 29, 1995 and re-opened, as a Macy's, on the next day.

A small enlargement, first proposed in 1995, was not completed until 2002. This entailed the addition of an east side Streetscape, which housed a (15,000 square foot) Foot Locker and (16,000 square foot) Old Navy. The Main Entrance on the southwest side of the complex was also rebuilt. These modifications increased the gross leasable area of PARAMUS PARK to 785,300 square feet.

Common areas in the mall were given a comprehensive face lift during the construction of 2001-2002. New flooring and lighting were installed. Moreover the Atrium was modified with a smaller fountain, new landscaping and escalators. With General Growth Properties' acquisition of The Rouse Company, in 2004, the mall became a GGP holding.

An 88,600 square foot expansion of PARAMUS PARK was on the drawing board for several years. Originally announced in 2008, the project was postponed due to The Great Recession and GGP's early 2000s bout with bankruptcy.

Expansion plans we re-announced in 2013, and approved by the local governing body in 2014. As planned, the project would have added a Regal Premium Experience (RPX) 10-plex at the existing west mall entrance. The new cinema was to link with the upper level Food Court. A newly-built (Norwalk, Connecticut-based) Stew Leonard's supermarket was also plotted.

The shuttering of Sears, on February 3, 2018, caused a change of plans. It was decided not to add any new structures to the mall, but just repurpose the vacant Sears. Stew Leonard's would occupy the (79,400 square foot) lower floor and also utilize a (20,700) square foot section on the upper. A Regal 12-plex would be installed in the remaining (60,400 square foot) upper floor. The new grocery and cinema were completed in early 2019.

The New York Times
"Paramus Park Mall" article on Wikipedia
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford, webmaster