Mall Update

Construction continues Thursday on Buffalo Wild Wings on the grounds of the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing. Mall General Manager Bill Schu says the restaurant may be open in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Staff photo by Michael Ein

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — The Hamilton Mall expects to complete a major expansion next year with two new restaurants and two new “junior anchor” stores.

The mall boasted an occupancy rate of nearly 100 percent during the holidays, said General Manager Bill Schu, of Hamilton Township.

LongHorn Steakhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings will join four other restaurants on the property.

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Darden Restaurants Inc., LongHorn’s owner, also owns the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants found at the mall. The other two restaurants are a Johnny Rockets and a Ruby Tuesday.

LongHorn restaurants are also located in Atlantic City and Millville, and are among the 370 restaurants in several brands the Orlando, Fla., chain operates in 35 states.

The LongHorn will hire 80 to 100 employees when it opens in the spring, spokesman Justin Sikora said.

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., based in Minneapolis, has a restaurant in Millville, one of 840 across the country. The new mall restaurant is scheduled to open in February, perhaps in time for Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, Schu said.

Meanwhile, H&M, based in Sweden, will open a new 20,000-square-foot store by June. The chain, which has men’s, women’s and children’s departments, grew from 2,472 stores to 2,776 stores in 2012.

And Forever 21, based in Los Angeles, will open a 35,000-square-foot men’s and women’s fashion store next to H&M in June. The two stores represent an expansion and reconfiguration of the mall, Schu said.

“We’ve been planning this renovation for a number of years. It’s taken longer than we would have liked because of the recession. But our ownership is committed to expanding and upgrading the mall independent of the competition,” Schu said.

The county’s other mall, the Shore Mall in Egg Harbor Township, will be partially demolished next year.

The Hamilton Mall, which is owned by Kravco Simon Co. based in King of Prussia, Pa., is also planning more development on the streetscape between anchor stores Sears and Macy’s, Schu said. The mall is in negotiations with potential tenants for that space.

“We don’t have names yet. We need signed leases. But it’s more fashion, restaurants. We’re talking to quite a few retailers who have expressed interest,” he said.

Hamilton Township Administrator Mike Jacobs said the mall’s expansion has been one economic bright spot since the recession.

The mall is the township’s single-largest ratable at $90 million, not counting its three anchor stores and four restaurants, which are assessed separately. The mall’s owners paid $2.1 million last year in property taxes.

“We’ve had so few new tax ratables,” Jacobs said. “Besides the new restaurants and stores, they’ve also spent well over $1 million improving their retention basins. The fact that they’re willing to invest is another good sign.”

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