Town and Supermarket
A Model for Partnership
Mayor, Township of Union
A cornerstone of my administration is to cultivate a thriving downtown retail
The current Stop & Shop (top) and the plan for the new and improved store that will remain at the same site in Union
environment for the citizens of the Township of Union. When I learned that one of our anchor stores, a primary supermarket for our residents, was looking at alternate sites for a new and improved supermarket, I assembled a team to work with Stop & Shop to develop a plan that would help the company achieve its goals, while retaining the store as a cornerstone of our downtown community.
We found Stop & Shop to be an open minded, creative and responsive partner throughout the course of our discussions. We look forward to the ribbon cutting when Stop & Shop’s exciting new supermarket opens its doors to serve our residents. I’m pleased to be able to share the story of how we reached this point through a mutually beneficial partnership.
Thousands of the township’s 56,000 residents support businesses in the area of town that we call Union Center. For many years, our center bustled with shoppers and the local economy flourished.
The easy choice would have been to sell and relocate. Instead they chose to re-affirm their leadership position in the business district and to be a good neighbor to the residents of (Union).
As in many towns, there came a time and need to take steps to revitalize our town center. One of the township’s key business partners, Stop & Shop, inherited both the land and building on a major thoroughfare in the Township of Union, after taking over the Edwards supermarket chain. After evaluating the antiquated building and determining that its economic lifespan was nearing its end, Stop & Shop had a decision to make about whether to reinvest in the Township of Union or close the store. The easy choice for them would have been to sell and relocate. Instead they chose to re-affirm their leadership position in the business district and to be a good neighbor to the residents of this fine township.
Members of their team met with my municipal colleagues in Economic Development, Engineering and Planning and together, as business partners with common goals, the group identified the merits of staying in town. As talks developed, it became increasingly clear that a win-win project was in the works. Their plans would bring new jobs, increased “ratables” and a state-of-the-art supermarket for our residents. Stop & Shop is investing millions of dollars to modernize and expand the existing store to give shoppers the best possible shopping experience.
Michael Minitelli, the Director of Economic Development for the Township of Union agrees. “We have been pleased with Stop & Shop’s willingness to work with us every step of the way. A successful partnership demands ‘give and take’ on both sides, and we are confident the final product will be a tremendous addition to our downtown business district.”
When neighborhood concerns were raised as to the size and design of the building, Stop & Shop worked tirelessly to present mutually-beneficial options.
The Challenges As the market leader in the Northeast, Stop & Shop Supermarkets had the professional experience needed to deal with the many challenges they faced after their decision to be part of the revitalization of our township’s Center.
The antiquated 18,000 square-foot store is situated on a small lot (2 acres bound by four municipal streets) with very challenging slope, grade and landscape issues. Stop & Shop hired leading architects, traffic experts and civil engineers to develope the best possible plans. With the cooperation of officials from the Township of Union, the result was an innovative store design that is mutually beneficial to Stop & Shop, the municipality and most importantly, to the store’s next-door neighbors.
The innovative store design features many comforts and conveniences not seen in other urban townships, including gated and lighted underground parking, a people/cart moving inclinator, elaborate landscaping and building/facade design treatments, as well as “traffic-flow sensitive” entries and exits and a renovated bus depot.
Community Relations Stop & Shop recognized the importance of personally reaching out to the community they serve. They scheduled meetings with township and store neighbors, installed a toll-free phone line so neighbors could call freely with questions, and maintained ongoing communications via personal phone calls to concerned neighbors and residents (whether in the store’s surrounding neighborhood or within the township). In addition, newsletters and surveys were distributed both in the store and via mail to provide updates and gather comments, concerns and support.
There are always bumps along the way when building a new road. When neighborhood concerns were raised as to the size and design of the building, Stop & Shop worked tirelessly to present mutually-beneficial options. The company invested more revitalization dollars to change setbacks, redesign the look of the back of the building, revise signage, provide additional security and lighting for the underground parking area and install eye-appealing vegetation and landscaping. Stop & Shop understood the need to maintain a positive partnership with concerned residents.
The Township of Union residents will soon be enjoying one of the first of Stop & Shop’s new prototype supermarkets in New Jersey, featuring exciting new departments with high-quality products and services. The 53,000 square-foot, multi-level store will be constructed with pleasing landscaping and well-maintained and secured grounds, as well as covered parking, child-friendly carts and the area’s first shopper/cart inclinator. This cutting edge, people-moving inclinator will smoothly transport customers and their carts quickly and safely to and from covered parking areas so they never have to contend with inclement weather. I am confident that the new state-of-the art supermarket will provide all shoppers with a positive shopping experience.
As the Township’s partnership with Stop & Shop continues to flourish, I look forward to working with other business partners who are eager to make a similar commitment to ensuring the future of a vital, vibrant town center of which all of us in the Township of Union can be proud.
Article in October 2005, New Jersey Municipalities