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FREEHOLD, NJ-The Macerich Co. has unveiled plans for a 100,000-sf addition to its 1.5-million-sf Freehold Raceway Mall here. Officials of the Long Beach, CA-based company say they submitted a formal application for the expansion in May and are now awaiting final approval from the local planning board. Pending that, Doug Morrow, Macerich’s vice president-real estate, says the company hopes to be in the ground in January and to begin opening new stores in November 2007.

And the plans unveiled by Macerich show a departure from the existing enclosed regional mall: the additional 100,000 sf will be a three-building, open-air lifestyle center. The site plan calls for the new construction to be attached to the existing mall along its east side, between the Sears and JC Penney anchor stores. Pedestrian-only promenades would be constructed, connecting to the center’s existing east entrances, “creating a natural flow between the existing enclosed center and the new outdoor space,” says Frank Lucia, senior property manager.

“This will be an open-air environment with a ‘Main Street’ feel,” Lucia says. “It will also be the site of some new-to-the-area retailers and restaurants. Our center will be the only enclosed mall in our area with an outdoor lifestyle component. The outdoor lifestyle center is the latest trend in shopping center design.”

Architecturally, the addition will have a brick and stone exterior, accented by decorative metal and glass accents, according to Macerich’s plans. Also part of the site plan is an open area that would be used for performances and other special events.

On the retail side, it will add 15 new specialty stores and two restaurants to the center’s tenant mix. The major tenant will be a two-story bookstore. No tenants have been announced yet, but the names of both Borders and Barnes & Noble have surfaced as a possibility for the bookstore slot.

Freehold Raceway Mall is a relative newcomer to Macerich’s portfolio. As reported by GlobeSt.com, it was part of a 13-center portfolio that became part of Macerich when it bought the Rochester, NY-based Wilmorite Properties for $2.3 billion in early 2005. When it acquired Freehold Raceway Mall, company officials specifically cited the expansion opportunities of the property.

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