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Wayne Town Center's Expansion Plans Bigger, Richer

High-end stores, fitness center slated to be a part of new shopping center as businesses have slowly come back to property near the Willowbrook Mall.

High-end retail stores and a fitness center could breathe new life into the Wayne Town Center.

Wayne Town Center Associates (WTCA) is applying to amend its original site plan to add more retail space to the once vibrant retail outlet located next to Willowbrook Mall.

The development project, which dates back to 2006, was designed to construct 700,000 square feet of building space on the 49-acre lot. WTCA wants to expand that footprint to about 750,000 square feet.

The Planning Board was slated to hear testimony on the application Monday, but Jerome Vogel, the lawyer representing the WTCA, requested the application be moved to the board’s Sept. 24 meeting.

The application calls for the Fortunoff building to be demolished. A new two-story building with multiple high-end stores and a fitness center is planned on going in its place. 

Parking spaces will be installed where the center of the mall used to be located.

Getting the development project off the ground has been difficult.

A multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the center stalled when Fortunoff, one of the center’s anchor stores, went bankrupt a few years ago. The store closed in 2009. Borders Books & Music, Old Navy and Loehmann’s all pulled stores out of the center in 2008.

Most of the center was demolished in 2009 with being the only remaining tenant.

Life has been ebbing back onto the site since then.

, Chipotle and restaurants have all opened. DSW Shoe Warehouse also opened a store and TGI Friday’s moved its restaurant from inside the center to a stand-alone facility in the parking lot.

Vornado Realty Trust in the site for $12.5 million from Wells Fargo & Co. in late 2010.

Vornado spent $197,000 on developing the site in the first quarter of 2012 and $2.7 million in 2011. It is unclear how they spent the money.

Mark Semer, a lawyer who is representing Vernado, could not obtain a comment from his client Tuesday night.

Vornado transformed the aging Bergen Mall in Paramus into the Bergen Town Center, home to a Nike store and grocery store Whole Foods Market Inc.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Darryl August 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM
How about a Wegman's?
Wayne's World August 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Whole Foods and Wegman's will only move into upscale communities with a certain economic demographic of which Wayne has some, but not enough. That location might work for them because N. Caldwell and Montville are probably close enough to be considered within reach. Wegman's in Woodbridge is amazing and I would take that over Whole Paycheck anyday. However, Wegman's is about to build in Bergen County and may not have the focus to do two major acquisitions in this area at once. Dick's Sporting Goods is the best store of its kind that I have been to. They not only have just about every kind of sporting equipment you could want, but they sell quality gear, something that Modell's does not do at all and Sports Authority does not do well.
Scondo August 10, 2012 at 02:48 PM
WW, Some fine opinions there. Eastern Mountain Sports and REI are expanding their sportinging good presence. Cabella/'s was looking for a retail location for the NY market and got flumoxed by the Xanadu/Xanadon't debacle. There is an overwhelming abundance of retail space available and frankly I don't see the need to add more. from the retailers perspective. Look at the 46/23 corridor. , Huge space at Costco is vacant, Maries old site vacant,---7 former car dealer locations vacant---A&P in Pequannock. Wayne Hills Mall, State Farm.. There are rumors that a major office supply retailer is about to begin slashing locations to consolidate and reduce overhead. Daffy's in Totowa gone. Best Buy rumored to be troubled. So space to be added , I don't know.
Wayne's World August 10, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Couldn't agree more, Scondo. Sorry our opinions don't count because our real names aren't up here. Brick and mortar retail will continue to come under pressure in the next decade. All of the locations mentioned are problematic for a food store for various reasons. As stated, Wegman's/Whole Foods, which would be perfect for WHM, won't go there because there is already too much competition and Wayne is not affluent enough to support them on its own. State Farm would be a decent location but suffers from same issue. Best Buy will probably go under within the next few years but in any event is downsizing its stores everywhere, because they are essentially a showroom for Amazon. Marie's might be the worst location in all of north Jersey for any establishment. WTC is still a good location for its proximity to highways and Willowbrook, so a sporting goods store might be the best bet. I just don't know if a high end mall concept works because you have so many within a 15 mile radius already and you do not have as affluent a demographic in this area as in northern Bergen or Morris/Somerset/Union/Western Essex that Short Hills draws from. Willowbrook is a lot nicer than it was but cannot be compared to the aforementioned in upscale-ness. A Bergen Town Center concept would be really nice but how many retailers want that kind of redundancy only a few miles away? The old Rt. 46 strip malls are in trouble.
Wayne's World August 10, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Also, virtually all major retailers (Walmart, auto dealers , sporting goods, department stores, etc.) have internal rules that require them to build on or very near a highway. For that reason, the only chance for the WHM property in this day and age is either a "town center" concept with mostly local retail, or a total redevelopment for municipal services. In my ideal world, if we could wipe the slate clean, I personally would love to see a town center concept where the municipal complex, high school, green space and retail could all co-exist and create a real "Main Street" type atmosphere. Aside from the financial pipe-dream that such a plan would be, you'd have empty strip malls all over town but that land could be re-introduced as green space to replicate some of the small-town feel that Wayne has lost. Unfortunately, our whole strip-mall culture is so visually unappealing and such a poor use of the land. The WHM gives dreamers a glimpse at the possibilities, but the financial, political, etc. considerations would never make that possible...but imagine we could remake the whole town to have a downtown to rival a Summit or Ridgewood? Property values would skyrocket.

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