Kevin Coakley quoted in article

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Bridgewater Commons mall will expand its retail space to make way for a a new restaurant adjacent to Bloomingdale's.
The Bridgewater Township Council Thursday unanimously approved a request from Bridgewater Commons allowing the mall to build out about 10,000 square feet of space that Bloomingdales's had reserved for its own expansion.

"Bloomingdale's had always reserved an expansion of 40,000 square feet, and they have authorized the mall to reduce that to 30,000 square feet so the mall developers can use that 10,000 square feet for expansion for other mall stores," Kevin Coakley, attorney for the Bridgewater Commons mall said.

Coakley said that while Bloomingdale's management has decided against expanding its own retail space and instead is expected to eventually release more of its remaining 30,000 square foot expansion space, it will do it in segments rather than all at once.

Until recently, the mall itself had about 12,000 square feet available for expansion, but the recent construction of a Cheesecake Factory restaurant took up about 8,500 square feet, leaving an additional 3,500 square feet still available to be utilized for mall store expansion, according to a  resolution passed by the township council.

"Lord & Taylor has reserved 40,000 square feet, and Macy's has 50,000 square feet, but they are not involved in this at the present time," Coakley said.

He said by giving this space back to the mall for general retail stores, it will help attract shoppers to the larger anchor department stores.

Coakley said this decision to allow mall store expansion rather than the expansion of the department store "anchors" will be a positive move for Bridgewater, because the township has a revenue sharing agreement going back to the 1980s when the mall was first developed.

"It did not cover department store revenue, and still does not, but when the mall builds new (non-department store) space like this, there will be revenue sharing increases to the town," Coakley said. "It serves the municipality very well."

The developers will have to take their expansion plans before the township planning board, but no date has been set for that, Coakley said.

Coakley said a restaurant is definitely in the plans for the new expansion, but he couldn't disclose its identity because there is not yet a signed lease.


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