South Jersey Mall History: Moorestown Mall

this story was last updated in January 2022

View of food court from mall entrance, prior to renovation — 2014 (photo by Peter Planamente)

Fast Facts

  • Opened in 1963
  • Located in Moorestown, New Jersey (Burlington County)
  • Developer: Winston-Muss Corporation
  • Owner: Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT)
  • Number of Floors: 1
  • Website

Anchors

Gimbels

1963–1986

Wanamaker’s

1963 — 1995

Woolworths

1963 — circa 1997

Sears

1971–2020

Stern’s (former Gimbels)

1986–1990

Ports Of The World (former Stern’s)

1990 — ?

Boscov’s (former Ports Of The World)

? — present

Hecht’s (former Wanamaker’s)

1995–1996

Strawbridge’s (former Wanamaker’s)

1996–1998, demolished 1998

1999–2006, re-opened in a new building

Lord and Taylor (new building)

2000–2020

Macy’s (former Strawbridge’s)

2006–2017

Home Sense (part of former Macy’s)

2018 — present

Sierra Trading Post, Five Below, Michael’s Arts and Crafts are outside in part of the former Macy’s space.

H&M (junior anchor)

2016 — present

Planet Fitness (junior anchor)

2020 — present

Turn 7 (former Lord & Taylor)

2021 — present

The Beginning

Moorestown Mall is a large shopping mall that is located ten miles from the Ben Franklin Bridge. It is also just three miles down the road from the Cherry Hill Mall, which has caused a competition-of-sorts over the years. Though Moorestown has survived and was eventually bought by PREIT, the owner of Cherry Hill, it has struggled with higher vacancy and many plans for redevelopment.

Postcard of Moorestown, looking towards Woolworths from the Sears wing

The original anchors were Wanamaker’s, Gimbels and Woolworths. Sears was added as a fourth anchor in 1971, after moving from their original location in Camden, New Jersey (about eight miles away). The mall has over one million square feet of retail space.

Decaying sign on the Sears building — 2020 (photo by Steve Crawford)

The 1980s

In 1986, The mall had its first renovation. Gimbels went out of business and was replaced by Stern’s for four years before going defunct. In 1990, the anchor briefly became a Ports Of The World and then Boscov’s, where it remains to this day.

Exterior of Gimbels at Moorestown — 1963 (photo from Haddonfield United)

The 1990s

Just two days before Christmas in 1992, a six-alarm fire caused major damage to the mall. The fire began inside of the Herman’s World of Sporting Goods store and spread to other stores. After five hours, 300 firefighters got the blaze under control. The anchor stores remained open while the rest of the mall was closed for 86 days. Two firefighters and a mall employee had minor injuries. After the blaze, the mall began a major renovation in 1993, which was completed in 1994.

Firetrucks at the burning Moorestown Mall — 1992 (photo from The Courier Post)

In the mid-1990s, Wanamaker’s went out of business and was turned into a Hecht’s. It lasted a very short time before being converted to a Strawbridge’s. Woolworths was also shuttered after the company closed their stores by 1997.

Label Scar of the former Strawbridge’s — 2020 (photo by Steve Crawford)

Also in 1997, The Rouse Company became the new owner of the mall and began brainstorming ideas to revitalize their properties. Originally, Nordstrom was considering to open a new store in South Jersey, but they eventually opened at the Cherry Hill Mall in the late-2000s. A small section was added to fit a new Lord & Taylor in the Strawbridge’s wing. Strawbridge’s was shut down and demolished in 1998 and a new building was constructed in the same spot. Strawbridge’s re-opened in 1999 while Lord & Taylor opened a year later.

Moorestown was now 75% leased with Boscov’s, Lord and Taylor, Sears and Strawbridge’s as the anchors. It had over 120 tenants. A newly-added seven screen United Artists Theatre replaced the original movie theater, which was operating at the mall since the 1960s.

The 2000s

In 2001, a Vans Skate Park opened in a portion of the vacant Woolworths space. People could bring in their skateboards and shred on the large half-pipes. It was a very popular destination for young kids and teens to hang out.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) bought the Moorestown Mall from The Rouse Company in 2003. PREIT exchanged the Christiana Mall (in Delaware) for the Echelon Mall (now Voorhees Town Center), Cherry Hill Mall, Exton Square Mall, Plymouth Meeting Mall and The Gallery At Market East (now Fashion District Philadelphia).

Just three years after PREIT took over, a few changes occurred. Strawbridge’s was converted to a Macy’s in September and the Vans Skate Park got a name change to Black Diamond in December.

Entrance to the Black Diamond Skate Park in Moorestown — 2012 (photo from vmanvideos on YouTube

CHECK OUT this tour of the Black Diamond Skate Park from 2012

Another small renovation was completed in 2007, which added new stores with exterior entrances. A junior anchor, Eastern Mountain Sports, was added next to Sears in 2008.

Exterior mall entrance with 1980s blue design — 2010 (photo by Steven Swain)

The 2010s

As a new decade began, more changes occurred. Plans were made in 2011 to replace the United Artists Theatre with a new 12-screen Regal theater that included digital projectors, surround sound, stadium seating and recliners and 2D and 3D movies. The plans went forward in 2012 and renovations began.

Regal Stadium entrance before grand opening — 2013 (photo by Peter Planamente)

As a result of the new plans, the Black Diamond Skate Park was shuttered in 2012 so the theater could add more space. The original theater and the skate park were gutted, and the Regal Stadium opened in late 2013 with its entrance inside of the mall by the exterior food court entrance. While sitting in the food court, you could always hear the surround sound blasting through the walls. I feel bad for the food court employees who had to hear that all day.

In 2011, Moorestown was granted four liquor licenses, after voter referendum repealed a local ordinance that forbidden the sale of liquor on the mall property. This paved the way for five possible restaurants to open.

  1. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill | 2013
  2. Osteria | 2013

Osteria was replaced by Catelli Duo, which closed in 2018.

3. Distrito | 2014

4. Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar | 2015

5. Yard House | 2015

As of 2021, four restaurants remain at the mall — Firebirds, Joe Italiano’s Maplewood (opened in 2019), Harvest Seasonal Grill and Yard House.

By late 2014, Moorestown was preparing for yet another renovation. This time to the outdated food court. It was straight out of the 1980s with bright neon lights and a large fountain in the center. The fountain was removed by December, prior to the renovations beginning in the new year.

The original food court fountain — 2013 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The mall lost many food tenants during the renovation, including:

  1. Nathan’s Hot Dogs/Kenny Rogers’ Roasters — This filled a portion of the former Black Diamond Skate Park
  2. Master Wok
  3. Taco Bell
  4. Philly Steaks
  5. Sarku Japan
  6. Sbarro
  7. Elevation Burger
  8. Charley’s Grilled Subs — Later became Charley’s Philly Steaks after the renovation
Panoramic shot of the food court — 2014 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The food court, now named “The Dining Court,” re-opened fully in late 2015 with Subway, Saladworks and Rita’s Water Ice remaining from the original food court.

Tables and chairs cleared out, while sheets cover the construction in the food court — 2015 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The new tenants were:

  1. Brooklyn Pizza
  2. Charley’s Philly Steaks
  3. MoonDog Grill
  4. Rita’s Water Ice
  5. Suki Hana (sushi bar) + a kiosk where the fountain was
  6. Yard House — Exterior entrance outside of the mall

As of 2021, Subway and Saladworks have since closed, making Rita’s the last original tenant. The Regal cinema was closed in April of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moorestown Mall sued Regal for not paying rent during the months it was closed.

The newly-renovated food court in 2015 (photo by Peter Planamente)

Not long after the food court renovation, the Boscov’s wing of the mall was revitalized to specialize in local boutiques. It was given the name, “Boutique Row,” and featured Erdon, Zeyzani and Never Too Spoiled. Plus, a new gym, Orange Theory Fitness, and Rizzieri Salon and Spa were added later on.

The Boscov’s wing in 2017 (photo by Peter Planamente)

A junior anchor, H&M, was added in the Macy’s/Lord & Taylor wing in 2016.

2017 — Macy’s announced plans to close under performing stores, which included the Moorestown location. PREIT bought the Macy’s building and converted a portion of it into four different retailers. Home Sense opened inside of the mall in 2018, while Sierra Trading Post, Five Below, and Michael’s Arts and Crafts opened outside between 2018 and 2019.

The mall entrance of Home Sense in the former Macy’s/Strawbridge’s — 2018 (photo by Peter Planamente)

August 2019 — Lord & Taylor announced plans to close stores. The Moorestown location began liquidation sales during the holiday season and the store was shuttered in early 2020.

Store closing signs hang in Lord & Taylor — 2019 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The mall has seen a large increase in vacancies, with national retailers and restaurants closing.

Including, but not limited to:: Zumiez, Spencer’s, Aeropostale, Regis Hair Salon, MasterCuts, PacSun, GNC, Play N’ Trade (video game store), Radio Shack, Metro PCS, Thomas Kinkade Gallery, Payless Shoes, Things Remembered, Game Stop, Yankee Candle and Charlotte Russe. Eastern Mountain Sports also shuttered after the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2016.

Deserted Sears wing — 2019 (photo by Peter Planamente)

The 2020s

Sears announced that it would be closing more of their stores and the Moorestown location was shuttered in April of 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the mall was closed from March until June. Moorestown has continued to loose more retailers. Foot Locker, Hollister, Starbucks, Francesca’s, Vitamin World, Weight Watchers and Littman Jewelers.

Mall entrance to Boscov’s (former Gimbels, Stern’s, Ports Of The World) — 2017 (photo by Peter Planamente)

Early 2021 — PREIT announced new plans to revitalize the mall. A hotel and over 1,000 apartment units will be built. PREIT hopes that selling part of its land to developers will increase revenue to reduce debt.

The former Lord & Taylor space has been used as a COVID-19 vaccination mega site.

March 2021 — The former Sears was bought by Cooper University Health Care and will be used as an outpatient medical center.

Store closing signs inside of the former Lord & Taylor — 2019 (photo by Peter Planamente)

May 2021 — Cooper announced they are expected to open sometime in 2023.

August 2021 — Moorestown Township approved a long-term tax exemption for the mall. A new project will add 375 apartment units (75 being affordable housing) and a hotel on the mall property.

December 2021 — Turn 7 opened in the vacant Lord & Taylor building. According to their website, it is “a one-of-a-kind retailer, selling everything from electronics and toys, to housewares, tools and appliances.” Turn 7 is owned by Rick Forman, who owned Forman Mills.

My Final Thoughts

Moorestown has been fighting a tough battle over the years being so close to the popular Cherry Hill Mall. It has definitely taken a beating with many retailers abandoning the mall. Time will tell if Moorestown can continue on or need a redevelopment plan.

Here’s a photo of my 16-year-old self at the old food court fountain. That thing was noisy as hell, but it was a great centerpiece and one of the last original fountains inside of the mall.

Thank you for reading this story!

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