ROXBURY, N.J. – As part of its proposed transformation of the troubled Ledgewood Mall into “The Shops at Ledgewood Commons,” the new owner of the shopping center plans to bulldoze not only the site’s former Macy’s but also its Barnes & Noble bookstore.
But relax, book lovers; Roxbury isn't losing it's main bookstore. The Barnes & Noble would be relocated to a portion of the structure that, until this year, served as home to The Sports Authority, according to plans filed by mall owner Ledgewood Investors.
And Ledgewood Investors’ plans call not only for demolition at the 46.6-acre site, but also for some construction. This would include several new buildings and the creation of a new entrance on eastbound Route 10.
“The new buildings will be situated throughout the site,” says a proposal received today by the Roxbury Township Planning Department. “The total number of buildings on the site will be increased from three to five.”
Ledgewood Investors said it wants to make other site improvements including new landscaping and lighting. Among the new features being proposed are several outdoor dining and relaxing areas that will have chairs and tables, said Roxbury Planner Russell Stern.
Under the new plan, the main section of the mall, now housing Walmart, Ashley Furniture, Marshalls, Cutting Crew and Bath & Body Works – and many vacant stores - will lose its indoor corridors. All access to businesses in the structure will come from parking lots.
One version of the main mall renovation calls for an expansion of the Walmart. The Walmart is now 122,702 square feet (including the garden center). The proposed enlargement would make it 196.284 square feet, garden center included.
The developers are also planning to turn into retail space a 13,070-square-foot fenced-in outdoor area on the south side of the former Sports Authority building, a piece that once served as the garden center for Rickel's. Additionally, they are hoping that a grocery store will set up shop somewhere on site. The mall used to have a Foodtown.
“The existing Ledgewood Mall will be transformed from a traditional enclosed mall to an open air shopping center anchored by a grocer and Walmart,” say the developers in a document given to Roxbury officials. “When completed, the modernized Shops at Ledgewood Commons will create a unique and exciting retail destination to meet, eat and shop.”
The company said it expects to be finished with its renovation of the shopping center by the summer of 2018. It recently erected signs along Route 10 in an effort to lure new tenants.
Such a turnaround will be welcomed by Roxbury officials, particularly those involved in trying to spark the town’s economic development. The retailer bloodletting at the Ledgewood Mall, blamed by some on the recession that hit about eight years ago, has continued even as the economy stabilized somewhat.
The Macy’s closed in January 2015, one of 14 shuttered nationally. The recent bankruptcy of The Sports Authority left that large building empty earlier this year. It's pullout was followed shortly thereafter by the closing, last month, of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant.
Delizia Pizza Kitchen, another long-time tenant of the main mall building, is now closed (but soon opening again at the Morris Canal Plaza on Route 46 in Ledgewood). This year also saw the plug pulled on the Pizza Hut that was adjacent to the mall.