ROXBURY, NJ – And they’re off: With township approval in their hands, the owners of the former Ledgewood Mall are now able to convert the forlorn site into The Shops at Ledgewood Commons and sign deals with tenants.
Toward that end, the developers recently spent time in Las Vegas attending RECon, the world’s largest real estate convention, where they pitched the Roxbury project to retailers.
The May 17 approval by the Roxbury Planning Board of the project’s preliminary site plan was all that was needed by the developers – a partnership that includes Advance Realty - to start signing contracts with tenants, said officials.
Advance Realty Director of Asset Management Jared Minatelli agreed. He said the township approval essentially made The Shops at Ledgewood Commons a real deal, not just a good idea.
“Without that approval, what am I committing to? I’d be committing to something I don’t have the right to do or give them,” Minatelli said. “(Before the approval) we would present the conceptual plan. A lot of them would say, `Yeah, if you can do it.’”
With the “if” question out of the way, the developers traveled to Las Vegas on May 21 to pitch the new mall at RECon. “We were out there meeting with (potential) tenants and happily announcing it had gotten an affirmative vote,” Minatelli said. “It was well received.”
Did Somebody Say Starbucks?
He would not reveal whether any contracts were signed or confirm rumors about companies supposedly interested in tenancies. There's no shortage of chit-chat around town about potential renters, one being Starbucks, a name recently mentioned by Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee, who is also on the planning board.
Rilee said the developers are going to demolish the building currently housing the Barnes & Noble bookstore. The bookstore will move to the structure that housed Sports Authority and a new, smaller building that will include a drive-through window will replace the current Barnes & Noble, Rilee said.
He said these changes will be among the developers’ first actions. “I think their plan is to get Barnes and Noble moved so they can tear that building down so they can build their first new building, which includes Starbucks,” Rilee said. “Starbucks has been talked about going there.”
Shielded from View
At the meeting where it gave the project a green light, the planning board approved the developers’ plans for a few remaining issues. One was doing something about the unsightliness of the mall’s frontage on Mary Louse Avenue.
The developers agreed to shield from view the backsides of the buildings. They also agreed to some design revisions for new signs they will be erecting, said planning board secretary Eugenia Wiss.
“We wanted to make certain that, when they’re driving past the shopping center on Mary Louise, that what people see isn’t the backs of buildings and loading docks,” said Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo, a planning board member. “The developers came up with a plan to screen that with plantings and a retaining wall, which we found satisfactory.”
Minatelli did not say when work will begin. DeFillippo said that, as far as the township is concerned, construction can begin right away. “My impression was, with this approval, they can begin demolition of the buildings they are going to take down,” he said.
Enclosed No More
In addition to removing the current Barnes & Noble building, the developers plan to raze the structure that formerly housed Macy’s. The overall plan is to remove all interior access to stores, making the center similar in design to the nearby Roxbury Mall.
The Ledgewood Walmart is not owned by the same company and is not part of the project. However, the Marshall’s and Ashley Furniture sites are owned by the developers, who said they expect both stores to remain in operation.
To read prior TAPinto Roxbury articles about the project, click these links: