New supermarket coming to Belleville

Photos by Ron Leir/ TOP: Former Pathmark site awaits rebirth as ShopRite. BOTTOM: Interior space of new supermarket.

By Ron Leir


Dave Owens is a cautious man, having been exposed to the vagaries of the retail business world. So, when Nutley Park Shop- Rite representatives gleefully informed Mayor Ray Kimble and Interim Township Manager Kevin Esposito on April 27 that they planned to open a second store at the long-vacant space at Belleville Center on Washington Ave. early next year, Owens took it in stride.

As a representative of the property’s management firm, Kan Management, Owens said he heard the same commitment from ShopRite a year ago – when legal papers were drawn up for a proposed long-term lease of the space formerly occupied by Pathmark until its closure in mid- October 2010.

But “(ShopRite) backed out,” Owens recalled.

True enough, conceded Vincent Locurcio Jr., vice president of Nutley Park ShopRite. “Circumstances came where we had to withdraw,” he said.

But now, Locurcio insisted, “things changed. We’re back in the mix. … We’ve negotiated an agreement with the landlord so we’re moving forward with bringing a second ShopRite into (the Belleville) location.”

Locurcio, who runs Nutley Park with partner Dave Infusino, declined to explain what factors forced the supermarket company to put the move on the shelf a year ago but this time around, he said, “we got approvals a month ago from our Wakefern (ShopRite) co-op board representing 17 families” to go forward with the deal.

“It’s close,” Locurcio said. “It’s definitely going to happen.”

How close? Locurcio believes the lease with Belleville Center “will be signed in the next month” and the new store should open sometime during “the first quarter of next year.”

Once development plans are submitted to, and approved by, the Belleville Planning Board – (no land use variances will be required, according to Locurcio) – “we’re looking at a nine month build-out,” he said.

Locurcio said the new store will occupy the same footprint as the old Pathmark – more than 40,000 square feet – but will also expand to take over the space now taken up by a liquor store which “will relocate across the hallway so that the whole right side of the store will be ShopRite.”

“We’ll be a little bit smaller than Nutley Park (48,000 square feet) and a little tighter but the new store will, essentially, be the proto-typical ShopRite, with a pharmacy, produce, bakery, all the different departments,” Locurcio said.

Locurcio said “a couple hundred” new commercial and retail jobs would be created by opening the new store. “We’ll probably transfer some people from Nutley,” he said.

On the assumption that Wakefern lawyers sign off on the deal, Owens said that all the existing tenants at Belleville Center, including Kelly’s Liquors, Pizza Hut and KFC, will remain.

“We’re proceeding as if it’s going to happen,” Owens said. “It’s at a point where legal documents are being prepared. … There’s no reason to think there’s not a commitment to go forward. … It appears Wakefield is pursuing it.”

And, Owens added, “We’re going to do everything we can to help.” That means refurbishing the outside of the property by installing new lighting, fencing and landscaping so that “the building will look brand new.” Those site improvements would be undertaken “60 days prior to the anticipated opening of the new store,” he said.

As for the interior, Locurcio said, Shop- Rite is committed to a “multi-million dollar investment” in making ready the new store.

“ShopRite has been in Nutley since the 1950s,” Locurcio said. “We regard Belleville as our sister town. Its people have been a big supporter of our business.”

Pathmark “was struggling” in that location, Locurcio said, “but we feel there’s a need for a supermarket in that area. We’re excited about it.”

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