ROXBURY, NJ - Walmart Inc. wants to upgrade and expand its store at the former Ledgewood Mall in Roxbury, converting it into a more modern “supercenter” that would include drive-through grocery pickup lanes.

The project would be aligned with the ongoing retrofitting of the mall into a new shopping center called The Shops at Ledgewood Commons, an effort that initially included no plans to change the Walmart store.

“We’re in the extremely early stages of going through the approval process, but the plan right now would be to convert that store into a supercenter,” said Walmart spokesman Phillip Keene. “There’s a bit of a long road (ahead) and we don’t want to get too far ahead of the process.”

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Nevertheless, Keene said Walmart hopes the project will receive approval from the Roxbury Planning Board before spring so work can begin before summer. Having erected about 4,700 stores nationwide, Walmart is adept at quickly building new stores, he said.

The company wants the new Ledgewood store to be its latest type of supercenter, one that includes many more items than the current Ledgewood Walmart, a store of the smaller “hometown Walmart” variety, Keene said.

A Radical Change for Roxbury

“We are definitely interested in making this a supercenter where we will have a full complement of departments including, deli, produce, dry grocery and expanded frozen foods,” he said. If permitted by the township, the store would also have auto care and garden centers, he added.

The new store is also likely to have an external area where people can approach in vehicles to retrieve groceries ordered online, something Walmart calls “online grocery pickup” or OGP. “We have OGP going into a North Bergen store,” he said. “There would only be a handful of stores in the state that have the OGP option.”

“If we were to build a supercenter on that site it would be our latest prototype … with a … full complement of the e-commerce omni-channel we have,” Keene said. “From local perspective, it would be pretty different from what folks (in Roxbury) are used to.”

Walmart defines a supercenter as being about 170,000 square feet, stocking about 140,000 items and employing about 350 people, Keene said. The current store, which replaced a Jamesway department store at the Ledgewood Mall, is 122,702 square feet and employs about 150.

Keene stressed that the store’s existing employees would not lose their jobs with the company during the project.

“The number one thing in relation to that is that - if we get to that point - we would absolutely have a plan in place to take care of the associates in that building through temporary transfers to other Walmarts,” said the spokesman. “Once we build that up, we will be able to bring folks back. We have no intention of affecting anyone’s employment status.”

In fact, Keene said he expects most of the current store’s employees will be happy about the project. “This would be good news,” he said. “I think the associates at that store would be excited if we are able to convert. There is potential for inconvenience temporarily.”

The team behind the Shops at Ledgewood Commons project most recently estimated the new mall will not be open until 2020, two years later than originally proposed. The new mall will be similar to the nearby Roxbury Mall in that - unline the former Ledgewood Mall - there will be no internal corridor providing access to the stores.

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