South Jersey Mall History: Hamilton Mall

this story was last updated in May 2022

Hamilton Mall entrance (photo by Peter Planamente)

Fast Facts

  • Opened in 1987
  • Located in Mays Landing, New Jersey (Atlantic County)
  • Developer: Kravco, JCP Realty
  • Owner: Namdar Realty Group
  • Number of Floors: 2
  • Website

Anchors

JCPenney

1987–2019, now vacant

Macy’s

1987 — present

Sears

1987–2018, now vacant

Shoppers World (lower level of former JCPenney)

2019 —2021, now vacant

Junior Anchors

H&M

2013 — present

Forever 21

2013 — present

The Beginning

Hamilton Mall is only one of two malls nearby to the Jersey Shore. Though it killed its competition, it has been spiraling downward in recent years.

The Kravco Co. and JCP Realty Inc. began construction in 1985 on land that was used as overflow parking for the Atlantic City Racetrack. The mall cost $100 million and was opened in 1987.

Exterior of JCPenney (photo by Peter Planamente)

The three anchors were:

Sears and JCPenney both moved from the nearby Shore Mall in Egg Harbor Township.

Macy’s was originally planned to be a Bamberger’s, but the company filed for bankruptcy shortly before the opening of the mall.

A fourth anchor was rumored, but never came to fruition.

Macy’s mall entrance (photo by Peter Planamente)

When Macy’s opened, Suzette Charles (Miss New Jersey 1983) and TV personality Robin Leach did the ribbon cutting.

The 1990s

The mall gained popularity into the 1990s and was busy with spectators from the Atlantic City Racetrack and vacationers to the Jersey Shore.

The 2000s

After the millennium began, the mall received an $8 million renovation. Fountains, trees and a carousel were removed in favor of kiosks and seating areas with sofas. The floor was replaced and energy saving lights were added. A new carousel was built in 2009 and is still operated in the mall presently.

Mall entrance between H&M and Forever 21 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The 2010s

In 2013, a two-story H&M and Forever 21 were added as junior anchors and the food court began another renovation, which included new seating, a raised ceiling, widescreen TVs and a boardwalk-style floor.

Food court (photo by Peter Planamente)

Though the mall was thriving for over 30 years, causing the nearby Shore Mall to close and redevelop, Hamilton has seen a steep decline.

In 2015, The Atlantic City Racetrack was shut down and has stood vacant and deteriorating.

June 2, 2018 — Seven teenagers were arrested after a brawl broke out in the food court. The brawl was planned on social media. One police supervisor was assaulted and had minor injuries. The mall was closed early for the night.

November 2018 — Sears went out of business and remains vacant. Sears owns the building and has not given up ownership.

Vacant Sears building (photo by Peter Planamente)

Less than a year later, JCPenney announced it was closing in July 2019. Shoppers World opened four months later on the lower level, while the upper level remains vacant.

Upper level of vacant JCPenney (photo by Peter Planamente)

Macy’s continues operating in 2020.

Also in 2019, the original owner Kravco sold the mall to Namdar Reality Group, which has a reputation for causing dead malls to become worse.

Liquidation signs hanging in Game Stop (photo by Peter Planamente)

The 2020s

Hamilton Township’s office of Economic Development designated the property in need of redevelopment. The mall has lost over $40 million in value. National retailers are vacating, while independently-owned shops are briefly filling spaces.

In 2021, it was announced that Shoppers World, which has been operating in the lower level of the former JCPenney, will close. This will once again leave Macy’s as the last department store in the mall.

CHECK OUT this tour of the mall from August of 2021:

2022 — New eateries have opened inside of the mall:

  • J&C Pizza (former Cosimo’s Pizza)
  • Nana’s Good Puddin (former Chicken Now)
  • Ms. G’s Icies (former Auntie Anne’s — lower level)
  • Slinging Wings (former Steve’s Grilled Cheese)
  • Crab De Jour (former Ruby Tuesday).

My Final Thoughts

Hamilton was able to successfully compete with the Shore Mall, which was miles down the road. Unfortunately, shopping habits have changed and vacancies began to overwhelm the mall. It will be interesting to see if Hamilton will remain as an indoor shopping mall or if the township eventually plans to redevelop the space into something new.

Thank you for reading this story!

For other mall stories, please visit my Medium page

Want me to cover something? Contact me at peterplanamente@gmail.com

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