Mayor Michele Dale and West Milford Shopping Plaza owner Mark Lane conducted a tour of the upcoming Highlands Market supermarket in Hewitt on Feb. 7 to update residents on the project.
“We wanted to come inside as we promised when we originally debuted that a new shopping center or supermarket was coming to town,” Dale said. “We want to keep (the public) engaged in this project so that you understand we have this wonderful new supermarket and resource coming to the municipality.”
Township councilwoman Marilyn Litchenberg as well as newly appointed administrator and township clerk Bill Senande were also on hand for the Feb. 7 tour.
Back in November, Lane and Mayor Dale announced that the new Highlands Market would be opening its first primary location in place of the old A&P anchor store of the plaza.
The A&P closed in November of 2015 after the chain filed for bankruptcy protection and the store has been vacant ever since.
During the tour of the new store site, Dale and Lane discussed some of the work that’s already been completed, as well as what’s to come.
“As you can see, there’s been a lot accomplished,” said Dale, pointing out that the shelving has been set and walls have been painted.
“The progress that our guys have been able to make has been substantial,” plaza owner Lane said. “We owe them a lot of credit.”
As far as when the store will actually open, Lane said the plan remains to open the doors in the spring.
“We’ve come across a couple of delays, but ultimately we’re still trying to shoot for an April grand opening,” Lane said.
Lane said that residents can expect some type of grand opening event when the time comes.
During the tour, Dale and Lane also announced that a new liquor store called Highlands Wine and Spirits will be adjoining the market.
As for the new Snap Fitness location at the plaza, Lane confirmed that it will take up the remaining space of the old A&P, but also said the gym will likely open a month or two after the grocery and liquor store.
Not too long ago, the West Milford Shopping Plaza was trying to rebound from the loss of not just the A&P but Sears as well, yet in the last year a Tractor Supply and Dollar General opened there.
Now, the gym, grocery store, and liquor store will add three more new businesses to the plaza.
Mayor Dale said she plans to give one more update on the project prior to the grand opening.
“One of my goals is to keep the public informed and engaged in everything we’re doing here in West Milford, so I thank you for being patient with us,” Dale said. “Know that we are working hard with our local business owners to make sure that we bring new business to town and deliver on what the needs are of our residents.”
The new Highlands Market is currently hiring.