By Steve Sears
The almost fifty year old Ledgewood Mall is slowly becoming The Shops at Ledgewood Commons.
Although COVID19 delayed the project a bit, overall production has been full steam ahead. A new Super Walmart is scheduled to open this fall, and targeted opening date for the remainder of the shopping area is set for the first quarter of 2021.
Jared Minatelli, Managing Director of Asset Management for Advance Realty Investors, has been overseeing the project. “The old Ledgewood Mall would’ve been going on fifty years old. So, before Roxbury, before Mount Olive, before Flanders – before some of those so-called central business districts, some of those other areas built up – the Ledgewood Mall was the regional epicenter of retail. Location wise, it was at a junction of major roadways, so it was a natural meeting point for retail because of its convenience for the surrounding population.” But, over the past fifteen years, malls and shopping have evolved, and a major facelift and new life were needed. “The bricks and mortar of the physical aspect didn’t meet the needs of either the retailer itself or the patron.” History of the location, demographics, and performance encouraged repositioning the mall to today’s standards. “With the appropriate repositioning and appropriate tenanting, it can be a very successful retail site again,” claims Minatelli confidently.
A primary driver of traffic at the project site is Walmart, whose original building has been torn down in favor of a 164,000-square-foot Super Walmart and food market. “Walmart is that anchor,” attests Minatelli. The stellar brand has grown the past fifteen years, and now entering into the supermarket realm with delivery and curbside pickup, is further at the forefront of retail. “Until you get them,” says Minatelli, “a new prototype supercenter, built and operating, everything else is the tail wagging the dog. Until we have that, it’s hard to get the rest to fall in line. It was really important for us to keep Walmart at the site, and to get them up and operating, and then everything else in the project is falling in line.”
Also coming on board at the site are DSW Footwear, Five Below, Ulta Beauty, and Burlington Coat Factory, along with new hospitality offerings such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks, Panda Express Chinese Kitchen, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The before mentioned join Ashley Home Furnishings, Marshall’s, and Men’s Warehouse, which importantly have stayed and have remained open and operating during the process.
“Development of the derelict Ledgewood Mall into the Shops at Ledgewood Commons will serve as an economic engine for Roxbury Township and its business community,” says Mayor and Councilman-at-Large of Roxbury Township, Bob DeFillippo. “The new stores locating at the shopping center, including the Super Walmart, which is hiring 400 associates, is a shot in the arm for the area which is hurting economically from the COVID-19 quarantine. As one of the few new shopping centers being built around the state, the Shops at Ledgewood Commons demonstrates that Roxbury is an extremely attractive place to live and do business.”
The project has also encouraged easier access from Route 10 heading west. In the past, shoppers had to go past the center, venture up by the old Roxbury circle, and turn around and head back east. “It added, depending on traffic, anywhere between eight to eleven minutes of travel time,” says Minatelli. “When you’re pitching convenience to people in this day and age, eight to eleven minutes is an eternity. One of the things we really worked hard on and were successful in getting, in working with the NJDOT (New Jersey Department of Transportation) because Route 10 is a state road – the DOT was involved, the town was involved – was making the intersection there between Route 10 and Mary Louise Avenue a fully signalized, fully functional intersection. You’re now going to have the benefit of making a direct left (turn) at that light into The Shops at Ledgewood Commons. The inconvenience that was there historically, we’ve taken that roadblock out of the way so to speak, and we just enhanced the convenience factor and the accessibility which, from a customer perspective and retail perspective, was absolutely critical to the project.”
Per Minatelli, the project has been a long time coming for all involved. “Just for the municipality and its residents, and for some of these retailers. Walmart was in this dying mall for twenty years before all this happened. Marshalls, Ashley’s, the same thing. For some of these retailers who have hung out and muddled through, it’s exciting for them as well to see this and be a part of it.”
The Shops at Ledgewood Commons is located at 461 Route 10 in Ledgewood.