· March 16 - Mayor Bollwage called the mall manager and said that he interpreted the CDC guidelines as requiring that The Mills at Jersey Gardens close. The CDC guidelines, which were being followed by Jersey Gardens, did not require closure of shopping centers.
· March 16 - This misinterpretation caused the mayor to order the closure of the mall.
· March 17 - Gov. Murphy ordered the closure of indoor portions of shopping centers to be closed statewide. SMC immediately complied with this statewide order.
· The letters sent to the City of Elizabeth Treasurer and City of Elizabeth Tax Assessor were sent on March 16 before the center was ordered to be closed and were delivered via UPS on March 18. These letters request deferral and reduction of property taxes in an effort to proactively assist tenants that will need help after the damage from the COVID-19 crisis has subsided. These letters were completely unrelated to the closure of the mall and were sent before the mall was ordered to close.
The communities have supported the businesses operating at both of these shopping centers for decades. These centers provide many jobs and are major financial contributors to their communities. Our letters requested property and sales tax relief for the benefit of the retailers and the consumers and not SMC.
We believe this relief will be required in order to sustain the malls, in order to support the tenants at the mall, so that they can come back after the COVID-19 crisis and can continue to make contributions to the community in the future.
We are disappointed that our elected officials do not wish to discuss such important matters, even during these difficult times, and begin planning for the re-birth of our communities post the COVID-19 crisis. We stand ready, willing and able to discuss any ideas that our elected officials have and to work collaboratively with them in order to assist in the re-birth of northern New Jersey.