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PARAMUS, NJ-Century 21 Department Stores has opened a 134,000-sf store at Bergen Town Center, the million-sf shopping center formerly known as Bergen Mall. As reported by GlobeSt.com, locally based Vornado Realty Trust bought the property from Simon Property Group for $145 million in late 2003. Vornado launched a makeover of the mall in 2005, and Century 21′s opening is part of that redevelopment.

Upscale discounter Century 21 is now operating in a four-level building once occupied by Macy’s, which shut down in early 2005. The opening culminates a 22-week fast-tracked conversion of the building, a renovation that cost $6.3 million and involved two sales floors, an administrative floor of offices and stock rooms and a lower-level receiving area.

“There were numerous construction challenges in renovating a 40-year-old building,” says Barry Fries, CEO of the New York-based B.R. Fries & Associates, which did the reconstruction. “But we had worked with Century 21 on three previous major projects, and we were able to hit the ground running to achieve their opening day goal.”

“With fast-track construction, there is no luxury of a learning curve,” says Raymond Gindi COO of the Brooklyn, NY-based Century 21. For his company, the opening marks the fifth store in metro NY/NJ, and the second in the Garden State, joining a unit in Downtown Morristown. Besides B.R. Fries & Associates, the building’s redevelopment team included SBLM Architects. Horst Design International did the interior design work.

Built as an open mall in the late 1950s, the mall was enclosed in the early 1970s. Besides Century 21, its major tenants currently include Marshalls, Gap and Saks Off 5th. Target and Whole Foods are both slated to join the tenant roster in the near future.

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