Rendering of the grand court at The Shops at Riverside.

With plans for a larger luxury component and a “grand court” with a crystal chandelier, The Shops at Riverside is elevating its upscale appeal.

The two-level, 770,000-square-foot shopping center, located in Hackensack, N.J., is well into the first part of a three-phase redevelopment involving remerchandising to bring in new brands, enabling several already present to relocate to bigger footprints, and renovations to create an ambiance with greater sophistication.

By the end of it all, luxury will comprise roughly 50 to 55 percent of the offering, up from its current 35 percent.

“This is a unique property — more of a boutique property. There’s a panache to it,” David Contis, president of Simon Malls, told WWD.

“The environment in retailing is very competitive, but business at The Shops at Riverside has been good,” Contis said. The center, opened in 1977, “has a long-term history of being successful.”

It’s a retail setting, Contis suggested, that sets itself apart from malls generally, providing a relatively relaxed, easier-to-shop experience for its affluent Bergen County clientele in northern New Jersey.

Contis declined to specify sales per square foot for the center, though he said it’s “in the upper echelon of the Simon portfolio in terms of productivity,” good enough to warrant investing in the redevelopment.

He said the main objective is to create a luxury setting “analogous to what we created at King of Prussia,” Simon’s megamall outside Philadelphia, which runs the gamut of the price spectrum. “We will spend quite a bit of time and capital creating imagery and ambiance for the luxury customer, mimicking many things we did at King of Prussia, like the flooring and the lighting. It’s a very sophisticated design motif.”

On the remerchandising: “We are working with luxury brands to expand and provide them with a more optimal size,” Contis said. “We are also talking to other luxury brands to come into the property — about 10 to 12. It’s about relocating, replacing and adding.”

Phase one, expected to be completed this summer, involves opening a cinema with a lounge and bar operated by AMC, relocating The Cheesecake Factory, and additional restaurants and specialty stores.

Phase two, seen being completed by the end of this year, entails transforming most of the interior with granite floors, high-end finishes, new lighting, fountains, removing physical obstacles to extend sight lines, renovating the exterior facade facing Route 4, a new entrance, adding skylights and raised louvered ceilings and creating a sculptural “floating” stair.

The third phase of the transformation, beginning next year, will see a redevelopment of the south mall section adjacent to Bloomingdale’s, reconfiguring shops to form a luxury loop, removing sections of the second level to create 35-foot high ceilings, and building the “grand court,” which Contis said becomes the focal point of the project and the primary gathering spot.

The design architect for The Shops at Riverside is the 5+ design firm, which recently completed work on the two-level fashion wing at Simon’s Del Amo Fashion Center in Southern California.

Among the amenities coming to The Shops at Riverside: a VIP lounge, concierge service, a porte-cochère valet area, a state-of-the-art “park assist” system and improved way-finding signs.

Saks Fifth Avenue closed its 107,000-square-foot store in the center in 2014, freeing up space for adding stores and expanding others.

The midsized mall is anchored by Bloomingdale’s, Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn and houses 70 high-end and bridge-priced specialty stores, ranging from Hermès, Burberry, Tiffany and Salvatore Ferragamo, to H&M, Claire’s and Gap. There is also a day spa and eight restaurants.

Simon would not disclose the cost of the project, which is part of the $1.6 billion budget for all of the company’s new projects and redevelopments underway. Simon has a total of 29 projects in progress in the U.S., Canada and Europe, including redevelopments, expansions and adding new anchors.

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