SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- After multiple public hearings and several news reports about plans for a Lidl supermarket to be built on the property owned by Snuffy's Panagis Renaissance at the intersection of Mountain Ave. and Park Ave. in downtown Scotch Plains, Snuffy's posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that the catering facility is not closing and that the news is being misreported.
Meanwhile, comments below the Facebook post varied from "I was scared I wasn’t gonna be able to book the venue" to "The person they met with told them that they could not guarantee (they) would still be in business."
We are not closing!!
News is grossly misreported.
- Snuffy's Pantagis Renaissance
However, during a telephone interview with TAPintoSPF this afternoon, Scotch Plains downtown redevelopment coordinator Tom Stowe confirmed that a lease agreement between Pantagis and Lidl is on file with the Township.
"Snuffy's Pantagis has a lease agreement with Lidl that gives Lidl control of the property while renting it. Pantegis maintains ownership of the property. The township has seen the lease agreement, so unless some other document is presented, there is not reason to believe otherwise," Strowe said.
"When Mayor Smith began his term, we went over to Pantagis to discuss the property. Shortly thereafter, we received a letter asking for rezoning of the property for Lidl," Strowe further explained. "Before the township proceeded, we did our due diligence regarding the lease to find out who has control of the property. If someone has documentation that says the deal is dead, they need to show it to the Township."
The property has been designated it as an Area in Need of Redevelopment. Following the designation, there is a 45-day appeal period. No one from Pantagis appealed the designation.
"We are dealing with Lidl, which plans to put a grocery store there. We are working with them," said Mayor Al Smith, who has made downtown redevelopment the lynchpin of his term in office. "If the people at Snuffy's have other plans, I'm not aware of it. We will continue to deal with the facts, which are that Lidl has control and they have plans to put a supermarket on the property. We are working with good faith with Lidl to accomplish that goal."
The Lidl plan was introduced at the Scotch Plains Township Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17, and is expected to be formally approved by the governing body during its October meeting. No one from Pantagis spoke at the Township Council meeting on Tuesday evening or at last week's Downtown Redevelopment Committee meeting to publicly disagree with the presentation.
TAPintoSPF has asked (via Scotch Plains Township) for an interview with Lidl's legal counsel. Additionally, TAP called Snuffy's Pantagis for comment and was told that no one is available to speak at this time and that someone would get back to us.
TAPintoSPF will continue to update this story.