SEAVIEW SQUARE: OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ
Ken Allan's Commentary:
Posted March 23, 2005 (user submitted)
Seaview Square was truly the Mall that never should have been. You won't find that many Dead malls in the greater NYC Metro Area, but this was sure one. This mall can trace it's history to just after 1950 when Sears relocated it's downtown Asbury Park store to a location just past the city's border, and just to the west of the Asbury Traffic Circle (NJ is lejendary for traffic circles), at the junction of Routes 35 and 66. In the mid-1960's a "shopping center" called "Monmouth Mall" opened about 5 miles to the north at anoher traffic circle this one the "Eatontown" circle was at the junction of routes 35 and 36, this out door center attracted popular anchors Bamberger's (now Macy's), and Montgomery Ward, when Wards pulled out of NJ entirely, Alexander's moved in. This shopping senter was an instant hit and also intstantly was affecting the downtown areas of Red Bank and Asbury Park. By 1970 a major expansion was announced that would enclods the center,
add a new 2 floor wing and add 3 more anchor stores (JC Penney, Abraham and Straus and Hahne & Co, like bamberger's Hahne's was a Newark, NJ based chain). Left out of the expansion was local, Asbury Park based, Steinbach, long "THE" department store for the NJ Shore area.
So just after the 1970 Asbury Park riots, a new Mall was planned that would be located just opposite the existing Sears store on route 66. This mall to be called Seaview Sqaure would be anchored by Steinbach at one end, and a new much larger Sears store at the other, and the mall would be 2 levels with room for about 150 stores, and at least 2 more anchor stores. Problem was this was hardly the ideal spot for a mall, development of the fast growing shore area focused on either areas to the north (near Monmouth Mall) or to the south in fast growing Ocean County (where plans were underway for a Mall of their own). The towns near the Seaview Sqaure Mall were a mix of solid middle class (who could eaily drive to Monmouth Mall), and increasingly poor, Asbury Park, as well as parts of nearby Neptune City and Neptune Twp. New development at the shore seemed to bypass this area. The mall did open in 1976, and Sears also located it;s regional credit office
(employing about 200 workers) to it's large store, and thus providing a core of "lunch hour" mall patrons. The mall was probally about 40% full on opening and in it's short history would never go above 75 to 80% full. Steinbach also changed it;s plans prior to the opening, and kept it's downtown Asbury Park store open. They choose to make their Seaview Sqaure store a fashion centered, upscale store, and thus customers wishing to buy housewares, or furniture had to go into downtown Asbury Park (and most simply did not), also the upscale offerings at Steinbach did not meash well with the residents of Seaview Sqaures local area. Things looked up when Paramus based Stern's announced that it would build a new store and become the malls 3rd anchor, however even this was star-crossed, Stern's wanted to build at the 100% occupied Ocean County Mall, in Toms River, but could not get permits, and the also 100% occupied Monmouth Mall could not expand any further.
In 1979 Stern's opened,
located at the mid-point in the mall. Also in 1979 Steinbach
closed it's downtown Asbury Park store, and the entire chain refocused on being a more value based department store.
The 80's were Seaview's greatest period of stability and the mall section between Sterns and Sears had close to 100% occupancy, it was also announced that Lord and Taylor would build a new store and become the 4th and final anchor (this would never happen).
In the 1990's things were unraveling, Stern's parent company (Federated Dept Stores) bought Macy's, and decided to merge the Abraham and Straus chain into Macy's , this would leave the Monmouth Mall with an empty anchor, so Federated decided to move Stern's into the Monmouth Mall, and continue to operate the Seaview Sqaure store as 1/2 store and 1/2 clearence center until their lease ran out (1999), also at this point the town of Toms River approved a limited expansion of the Ocean County Mall, and Stern's finally was able to build there. Tennants started to leave the mall in droves, and by 1999 Steinbach would become history and it's larger stores like Seaview Sqaure became Value City stores (a fate similar to other regional chains like Crowley's in Detroit and Hoschild's in Baltimore). Sears by this point had closed it's regional credit center, and was going through chain wide problems of it's own, and in 1999 what was left of Stern's was gone.
The final outcome was to close the Mall, demolish all but the Sears and Value City stores, and a new open air "power center" would replace it, achored by a new Target, Lowes, and the exisitng Sears and Value City.
Seaview Sqaure Mall did not see a 25th anniversary, but then it never should have been built at all.