Mayor Michele Dale and plaza owner Mark Lane announced Wednesday night that there is a new tenant for the old A&P at the West Milford Shopping Plaza in Hewitt.
“We are pleased to announce tonight that we have a local operator who will be opening a grocery store (at this location) and it will be called Highlands Market by Shop Well,” Lane, who is part of the third generation Lane Group, owners of the plaza, said. “The Shop Well brand hopes to grow, but this will be the first primary location.”
The A&P anchor store in the plaza closed in November of 2015 after the chain initially filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, and again in 2015.
The store has been vacant since that time.
Dale said finding a tenant for the store has been a priority since taking office in January, and thanked the owners of the plaza in her post for their help in getting the new store.
Lane said the store will take up about 75 percent of the A&P store’s footprint, with the other 25 percent going to opening another Snap Fitness location.
Lane and his family business have owned the plaza since the 1960s, and he said it was challenging to find a tenant that would be a good fit for the community.
In addition to losing A&P, the plaza was also rebounding from the loss of Sears.
In the last year, a Tractor Supply and Dollar General have opened, and with the new grocery store, will help the plaza succeed going into the future.
Lane said the store is planned to open sometime during the coming spring.
He also said that the principals for Shop Well will join him and other public officials in providing monthly updates on the store’s progress before opening.
He said drawings of the planned construction, which will include many elements centered around West Milford, will make the store unique and “a good fit” for the community.
He said he believes that if the store can reach the sales projections that the old A&P had, it will be successful.