BRIDGEWATER, NJ-The planning board of this Somerset County township has given its final approval to a proposal by the Rouse Co. to expand its Bridgewater Commons enclosed regional mall. The existing property totals some 900,000 sf, and the addition of nearly 200,000 sf of new space will boost the property past the one million-sf mark.

The expansion, which was first proposed two years ago, involves two parts. For one, 102,000 sf will be added to the existing, three-level building. The plan calls for some 50,000 sf to be added to the existing Macy’s department store, according to Rouse officials, and 40,000 sf will be tacked onto the 150,000-sf Bloomingdale’s anchor store. About 12,000 sf of small tenant space will be added to the mall itself. Besides Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor is the third anchor tenant.

Actual construction on the additions is slated to start early next year. A related revamp of the mall itself is already under way, according to a Rouse spokesperson, including new elevators and new flooring on the upper two levels. On the in-line tenant front, the Gap and Banana Republic are leaving the ranks, but Rouse has already signed American Eagle and Forever 21, a trendy apparel store, to replace them in the high-volume property.

The second part of the expansion calls for construction of a separate, 90,000-sf “lifestyle” center immediately adjacent to the existing mall on the 100-acre site. The new center will consist of five separate buildings, with Crate and Barrel (36,000 sf) and Maggiano’s Little Italy, a restaurant, signing on as initial tenants, according to the spokesperson. Actual construction is expected to start late next year, and Rouse officials estimate the cost in the $30 million range.

Bridgewater Commons was built in the 1980s by the California-based Hahn Co., now part of Trizec. The Columbia, MD-based Rouse Co. bought the upscale center about five years ago when Trizec largely exited the shopping center business. The property sits on a triangular site, locally dubbed “the Golden Triangle,” that is bordered on its three sides by I-287, Route 202/206 and Route 22.

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