Richard Rabinowitz's Commentary:

Posted May 17, 2014 (user submitted)

I can count one dead shopping center on Route 18 in East Brunswick, one practically dead one (if you don't count a new store having moved into it), and one shopping center that may be on the brink. There are probably several other older shopping centers with empty storefronts.

The dead shopping center (Sam's Club/ Flea Market) was killed due to redevelopment rather than actual decline. East Brunswick called this space the "Golden Triangle", as this was where one of its major bus stations were, and it wanted a transit oriented development on the site. So it called for the site to be redeveloped as a new shopping center/apartment complex, with a parking deck/bus station next to it. The flea market and furniture store were forced out, and Sam's Club hung on while the Great Recession made redevelopment infeasible. However, when the economy started bouncing back, so did redevelopment desires, and so Sam's Club was also sent packing. The shopping center was torn down and the site is currently being redeveloped. In my memory, the Sam's Club and the flea market were the more outstanding features of that place, and the flea market was the oldest of the "anchors" (if you can call two stores of a four-establishment block "anchors").

The nearly dead shopping center would be 251 Route 18. It had a bookstore at one time, and may have had a Kids R Us (I forget). I do recall it having had an Office Depot (or other office/furniture store). The Google Street View picture of it, taken in the fall of 2008, shows the place on the way down; it is dominated by a Halloween Express in that picture. (Halloween Express is one of the ghouls of the real estate scene. It pops up in autumn months, takes over various vacant storefronts, sells a bunch of Halloween costumes ahead of that holiday, and then closes up shop.)

Then there is Loehmann's Plaza, practically next to 251 Route 18. Its oldest and principal anchor is Loehmann's... which is going out of business. Its anticipated closing has been preceded by several other tenants, some of which have closed and others of which have moved out: Loehmann's Shoes (part of Loehmann's), a deli, a martial-arts shop, another shoe/retail store, and possibly other places. Toys R' Us, once a detached store next to Loehmann's Plaza, has moved off to a newer shopping center down Route 18.

Loehmann's Plaza, at current, is only half dead, though. Shopper's World, a bargain-basement clothes store, is the other anchor, and it's in business, although its portion of the center is positively grimy. A small food market and "Amazing Savings" are next to Shopper's World, and the "nicest" part of the shopping center is a gym called Retro Fitness. The gym is clean and well-kept. Toys R' Us became a swimming pool supply store.

However, Loehmann's failure puts a cloud of uncertainty on the future of Loehmann's Plaza, and so I am nominating it for inclusion on

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