ROXBURY, NJ – Responding to concerns by Roxbury officials, the developers converting Ledgewood Mall into The Shops at Ledgewood Commons have agreed to build an enclosed walkway through the center of the main structure that will connect its front and rear parking lots.

Initial plans for the shopping center showed no easy way for those who walk to, or park on, the building's Righter Road side to get to the storefronts, which will all be on opposite side. The issue was first raised at a November meeting of the Roxbury Planning Board.

The developers are planning to eliminate the internal corridors and storefronts now found at Ledgewood Mall, abandoning the current “enclosed mall” arrangement. They are also removing the Righter Road side customer entrance. All customer access to the stores will be from the Route 10 side parking lots, where stores will have their own storefronts and front doors in a fashion similar to Roxbury Mall.

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To meet requirements relating to parking accommodation, the developers plan to have parking spaces on the Righter Road side. However, they initially included no easy way for shoppers using those spaces to get into the stores.

“The renovation of the mall eliminates the interior mall pedestrian circulation, as well as the pedestrian entrance from the Righter Road side of the building,” wrote the Roxbury planners in a review of the proposal. “Consequently, patrons and employees would be discouraged from using this large parking area, due to the long distance to walk to get to exterior store entrances on the Route 10 side of the building.”

The planners board urged the developers to “revise the architectural plans to provide for pedestrian access(es) from the Righter Road parking lots through the building to the front of the building,” and they said “failure to do so will cause under-utilization of the rear parking lot area and greater parking demand in the main lot areas opposite Route 10."

Revised site plans submitted Jan. 3 by Bohler Engineering include a 4,466-square-foot enclosed walkway bisecting the structure. There would be no access, via the walkway, to the surrounding stores, according to the plans.

In a Tuesday interview, Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo, who is also on the planning board, praised the developers for being responsive to the board’s concerns. “We did raise the issue,” he said. “They listened, at least at that meeting, to what our concerns were and … they came back and proposed a solution to it. It’s certainly very encouraging to hear the developer talk about being responsive to things raised during planning meetings."

The developers are also planning a number of changes to help with traffic flow, most notably a proposed left-turn lane on Route 10 at the light for Mary Louise Avenue. They recently met with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to discuss this as well as adding another entrance into the site for Route 10 east motorists.

The developers are scheduled to appear again at Wednesday’s meeting of the planning board.