ROXBURY, NJ – The owners of the former Ledgewood Mall have “begun signing leases” with tenants for the shopping center they plan to convert into The Shops at Ledgewood Commons, according to a township official.
The official, Roxbury Councilman and Planning Board Member Bob DeFillippo, said he attended a meeting where the developers discussed the lease signings. But DeFillippo said he could not reveal the names of the companies involved.
“I already went as far as I’m going to go,” he said when pressed. “I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize this project … They’ve begun signing leases and that’s a huge development, but in terms of naming who these people are, I’ve got to leave that up to them.”
DeFillippo referred questions about tenants to Jared Minatelli, the director of asset management for Advance Realty, one of the site’s developers. But zipped lips were also to be found with Minatelli, contacted Wednesday.
He said the developers are not ready to reveal identities of retailers committed to leasing space at the site. Last month, Roxbury Councilman and Planning Board Member Jim Rilee mentioned Starbucks as one possible new tenant.
The developers are planning to raze some structures on the property, build some new ones and convert the enclosed mall into an external-access-only shopping center similar to the nearby Roxbury Mall.
The project received planning board approval May 17 and the developers said they hope to have the new mall open by late 2018. Their progress was slowed slightly Tuesday when the Roxbury Mayor and Council feathered the brakes on approving a plan to add a left-turn lane onto Mary Louise Avenue for westbound Route 10 traffic.
After hearing a presentation detailing the plan, the Mayor and Council held off giving its endorsement and said it will revisit the matter Aug. 8. It did so after Rilee expressed concern that the council had not been given detailed traffic study reports relating to the Route 10 alteration proposal.
Tom Malman, a lawyer representing the developers, told the council he came to the meeting hoping to get council approval for the left-turn lane. “Timing is critical for us,” he said. “We’re out in the market trying to attract tenants. I can say there’s a good buzz out there with a lot of tenants interested. But I can also tell you if they don’t have a left-turn lane, they’re not going to come here. It’s that simple.”
Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi urged the Mayor and Council to approve the proposed 360-foot turning lane. He said the township “needs this (mall) to boom” and contended the proposed turning lane could mean the difference between success and failure for The Shops at Ledgewood Commons.
Without the lane, westbound drivers headed past the mall will have to drive eight tenths of a mile to legally turn around (at the Drake Road jughandle), said the chief. “If you force people to not be able to make this left in, they’re not going eight tenths of a mile and coming back to the shopping center,” he said. “They’re just not going to do it … they’re either going to skip it or they’re going to start doing goofy stuff” such as using Route 46 parking lots lot to make U-turns.