Last Thursday, at Metropolitan Church Sr, Pastor Dr. David Jefferson, hosted a community meet and greets to provide an update in the proposed development plans for Shoprite supermarket. The church is adjacent to the proposed development, located 149 Springfield Avenue. Earlier this year an announcement was made that Shoprite would be replacing the previous proposed tenant of Wal-Mart. Opposition by local residence and activist caused Wal-Mart to withdraw from the project.
The redevelopment plans have been approved by the city of Newark, and will feature a 70, 000 square foot Supermarket, two restaurants, a Bank, and additionally the plans will include, 160 residential units, on 11 acres lot once the Prince Street Housing complex. The ShopRite supermarket is expected to be the largest grocery store in Newark when it is completed. Neil Greenstein, “This is a homecoming of sorts for Wakefern,” said Neil Greenstein, president of the new ShopRite of Newark and member of the Wakefern Food Corp. He noted that the first Wakefern warehouse was located in Newark in 1946. “Now, nearly 70 years later, this site is set to become the city’s premier retail destination, and it is an ideal time to open a supermarket here.” Wakefern recently opened an 180,000-square-foot distribution center on Cornelia Street in Newark. Greenstein also owns a ShopRite in Bloomfield that his grandparents started in the 1930s.
“We’re real focused on being a partner in the community,” we are looking for a long-term relationship with the community. My family shop at our stores, so we too will be shopping here. Greenstein said. The anticipated ShopRite expects to create 300 full- and part-time jobs at the site, with benefits. The overall development is expected to create approximately 240 construction jobs and almost 400 full- and part-time jobs, according to Tucker Development, the developer of the project. Half of the audiences present were looking for job opportunities. Pastor Jefferson informed that audience that this was not a job fair, and that a job fair was scheduled at Essex County College, on October 11th.
A Q&A followed the discussion and covered I wide range of concerns. From Job opportunities, hiring-offenders, rubbish concerns, traffic study, parking for residence, and safety and security. Some expressed concerns that the community was not considered or invited in the planning process. Tucker, made clear to the audience that his organization compiled fully with the notices requirements outline in the city’s process. “We did have a public meeting with there planning board”, he said. One residence suggested that the developer assist in restoring Hank Aaron baseball field for the community. Mr. Greenstein informed the audience that his company assisted in the creation of a children park near his other store and would do the same near this property. The process rather then the merchant Shoprite surrounded most complaints. There were many that were happy to see Shoprite coming to Newark.
The city council has a final reading of the project, and is expected to move forward. Tucker Development is expects to break ground on the Springfield Avenue Marketplace this fall. The company is currently marketing additional leasing opportunities to a mix of national, regional and local retailers. An October 2014 opening is planned for the Newark store. The store expects to reach about 280,000 Newark residents, as well as 60,000 college students and faculty.