About 12 months from now, shoppers could be standing inside a new ShopRite in Bethlehem Township.
Wednesday afternoon, developers stuck shovels in the hard cold ground of a vacant field to mark the start of construction for Madison Farms. The mixed-use development would add 837 luxury residential units and 140,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a new ShopRite supermarket near Route 33. Construction costs for the first part of the retail component are about $50 million.
"Their store will be a staple in the community for years to come," said Jonathan Kushner, president of KRE Group of Bridgewater, N.J.
The Silverman Group, a real estate company in Short Hills, N.J., is partnering with KRE Group to develop the Madison Farms project.
The development should create 300 permanent full and part-time jobs at ShopRite, plus hundreds of construction jobs.
"ShopRite is coming back, but it's not the same ShopRite," said Joseph Colalillo, president of ShopRite of Hunterdon County, N.J., which will own and operate the store. "It will be different than the store that left here about 12 years ago."
ShopRite previously was on Route 191 in Bethlehem.
The new ShopRite supermarket will have online shopping capabilities, on-site child care, a drive-thru pharmacy, an in-store café and the potential for take-out beer, Colalillo said.
"We try to stay contemporary with the community's needs," Colalillo said.
The store will be similar to the Greenwich Township store on Route 22 near Phillipsburg, N.J. Besides the Greenwich Township store, his company owns ShopRite stores in Clinton and Flemington, N.J.
EASY ACCESS TO KEY ARTERIES
Colalillo said J.G. Petrucci Co Inc., a design/build construction firm with a Bethlehem office, introduced him to KRE Group, while Wakefern Food Corp, a retailer-owned cooperative and the distribution and merchandising arm of ShopRite, helped the retailer locate the site on Freemansburg Avenue near Route 33. Headquartered in Keasbey, N.J., Wakefern operates more than 250 ShopRite supermarkets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware. Combined, the stores have $14 billion in annual sales.
Colalillo said the location – just south of Route 22 – has easy access to Route 33 and Interstate 78.
Rob Evans, manager of the Greenwich Township store, will manage the Bethlehem Township ShopRite, Colalillo said.
HOMES AND APARTMENTS
Aside from the retail component, the Madison Farms plan calls for 57 single-family houses, 210 townhouses and 570 apartments.
The plan calls for 35 acres of the 100-acre property to remain as open space, with a series of walkways, gazebos, small parks and ponds connecting the retail and residential space.
"Throughout the planning process, we placed a keen focus on designing an environment that would cultivate a community and neighborhood feel," Kushner said.
The apartments could be built, rented and ready for occupancy by the second quarter of 2015, with construction on townhouses and single-family homes occurring during the second part of the project.
"This project has been on a long and winding road since the early 2000s," said Paul Weiss, president of the Bethlehem Township board of commissioners, who welcomed the developers and ShopRite to the community.