ROXBURY, NJ — (Updated 5:57 p.m.) The Barnes & Noble bookstore in Roxbury closed Tuesday evening and will not be reopening nearby in The Shops at Ledgewood Commons as planned..
Although books remain on shelves inside, signs on the store’s doors and windows announce the closure and urge people to visit the Barnes & Noble store 12 miles east on Route 10 in Morris Plains.
“We have truly enjoyed serving our Ledgewood customers from this location for the past 26 years and appreciate your loyalty and support,” say the signs.
"Yes, we can confirm that they pulled out," said Dan Ivers, a spokesman for The Shops at Ledgewood Commons developer Advance Realty Investors. He noted that another big prospective tenant, 24-Hour Fitness, is also no longer a part of the project, having declared bankruptcy not long ago.
"All other tenants remain committed to the project, and we’re very excited about the reopening of Wal-Mart in October," Ivers said.
A source, who was shopping at the store Tuesday, said staffers were informing customers about the closure and the chain's decision to not stay in Roxbury. Repeated attempts Wednesday to get comments from Barnes & Noble were unsuccessful.
The decision throws a wrench into a plan, approved by Roxbury officials, wherein the Barnes & Noble building was to be razed and the bookseller was to move into a nearby part of the mall that formerly housed a Sports Authority and is now being renovated.
"The manager just told us they are not going forward with the lease in the new building," said a Barnes & Noble employee. "She looked like she was taken completely off-guard by the decision."
The manager offered the workers positions at other stores, if they wanted to transfer, said the staff member.
The mall’s developers are still planning to demolish the Barnes & Noble building. Three new structures are being built closer to the bookstore. The land on which the store now sits will be used for parking and a drainage retention system, according to the plans.
Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo and Roxbury Planning Director Russell Stern said Tuesday they knew nothing about a change of heart by Barnes & Noble.
"As recently as a couple of weeks ago, I was at a planning board meeting and Advance Realty came in to discuss their plans and there wasn’t a word mentioned about Barnes & Noble," DeFillippo said.
In fact, the mayor said the developers gave no indication of anything but good news, noting "they came in and wanted to tell us they were turning the building over on schedule to Walmart," which is close to opening a new Walmart Supercenter at the site.
The Barnes & Noble pullout from Roxbury is similar in circumstances to that of several other major brands that had presences at the site, formerly known as The Ledgewood Mall. In recent years, Pizza Hut, Ruby Tuesday and Macy's also abandoned their outposts.
The Sports Authority closure was part of a nationwide shutdown of the company, something not taking place with Barnes & Noble despite strong competition from Amazon. "We proudly serve America with over 600 bookstores in every U.S. state, and are opening newly designed stores in communities nationwide," say the signs on the Roxbury building.
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