For 35 years, people from Hunterdon and Somerset and Morris Counties have been visiting Bridgewater Commons Mall. Probably from even farther. It's been a great mall.

An AMC dine-in theater. Macy's and Bloomingdale's anchor stores. A terrific food court. A world-class center court Christmas Santa every year. In my opinion, it's had it all.

I've been going to this mall for about 10 years ever since I moved to Hillsborough (and now in Flemington). It's where I brought my little ones to the Disney Store when that was there. It's where I brought my son on countless Lego store trips. Now that he's older it's where he went to rent his tuxedo for both junior and senior prom.

dad and son walk through the mall view from the back
Yuliya Apanasenka

I have so many memories of this place. I didn't realize how hard it would hit me when I saw the news that it has been sold.

Normally a new owner wouldn't be cause for the blues. But this new owner, Pacific Retail Capital Partners, has a history of turning malls into mix-use properties. They specialize in taking huge retail sites and converting them into multi-use properties. A mall they took over in Utah is being developed into more than 1,000 multifamily residential units plus office space, a hotel and unique restaurants.

In Illinois, a 1.4 million-square-foot mall is being turned into residential housing, restaurants, a grocery store and a park.

What exactly is in store for Bridgewater Commons?

Bridgewater Commons Mall (courtesy Bridgewater Commons)
Bridgewater Commons Mall (courtesy Bridgewater Commons)

"PRCP needs to conduct its market analysis and meet with city and community leaders to discuss what’s needed and then come up with a master plan," said a company spokesperson.

With the history though, the writing is on the wall. Whether it becomes a smaller mall with medical offices and condos, or no mall at all with amusements and restaurants and office space, or anything else remains to be seen. But I'm certain the mall we knew and loved will be unrecognizable over time.

I suppose it was bound to happen. Malls are hurting. Bridgewater Commons was no exception. It was said to be near foreclosure six months ago. It was financially underwater with a $300 million debt but an appraised value of only $204 million.

Something had to give. I get it. My heart just doesn't get it.

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