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How did Eli Cohen Real Estate convert a 166 acre garbage dump, with no good road access or visibility for signage, into a thriving 1.3 million SF shopping mall?

When Eli Cohen stood by an abandoned toilet fixture in the midst of the City of Elizabeth’s 166 acre garbage dump, he proclaimed that this site could become one of the hottest destination retail centers in the country.

People laughed at Eli. Consider the facts. Here were 166 acres of trash, old tires, abandoned cars, and weeds twelve feet tall. There was no good road access or visibility for signage. But Eli’s background as an economic geographer told him that real estate was indeed about location, location, location.

Eli Cohen Real Estate’s team authored and helped direct the conversion of the garbage dump into the 1.3 million SF Jersey Gardens Shopping Mall. Every level of government, from the mayor of Elizabeth to the governor of New Jersey, became actively and aggressively involved in this huge undertaking. The Regional Plan Association chaired monthly meetings to shepherd the various government entities and agencies through the eighteen permits required.

A new interchange (exit 13A) for the New Jersey Turnpike was approved and constructed. A unique funding technique was developed, and enabling legislation was passed.

Eli sold the land to the Glimsher Organization of Ohio. They named the project Jersey Gardens. The thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue generated by this project now represent a huge stimulus to the economic vitality of the City of Elizabeth.