Huntington Commons’ first grocery store in 26 years will open this weekend at the shopping center, which is undergoing a multimillion-dollar revamp to help turn around a high vacancy rate.
The ShopRite supermarket will open Sunday, according to Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative based in Keasbey, New Jersey, that owns the ShopRite registered trademark.
The new store is part of an ongoing $31.2 million redevelopment of the property, which has included relocating an existing Marshalls, which has been in the shopping center since 1981, to be beside ShopRite.
Located on New York Avenue north of the Huntington LIRR station, the center, formerly called the Big H, has been contending with a high vacancy rate for years, but the owner hopes a revamp with new building facades, upgraded landscaping, a repaved parking lot and a new supermarket will attract more tenants and shoppers.
ShopRite is taking 63% of the 102,949-square-foot space that Kmart vacated in 2019, while Marshalls relocated in October to a 27,357-square-foot space, similar to its former size, beside the supermarket.
The grocery store is owned and operated by Seth Greenfield and his family, who have six of the 16 ShopRites on Long Island, a Wakefern representative said Thursday.
The new ShopRite will employ about 250 people, the representative said.
Wakefern supplies groceries and support to more than 275 independently owned ShopRite stores in six East Coast states.
Health and wellness tenants coming
Built in 1962, Huntington Commons is a 207,000-square-foot shopping center that is owned by Urban Edge Properties, a Manhattan-based real estate investment trust.
The shopping center’s tenants include Old Navy, Petco and Burger King. Home Depot owns its building in the shopping center instead of leasing from Urban Edge.
Supermarkets that anchor shopping centers tend to drive foot traffic to smaller tenants on the properties, but Huntington Commons hasn’t had a grocery store since a Pathmark closed there in 1996.
Urban Edge expects its renovation of the shopping center will draw a better mix of tenants and help improve foot traffic.
Huntington Commons was 77.9% leased as of Sept. 30, compared to 43.8% three years earlier, according to Urban Edge’s earnings reports.
Leases recently were signed for three new tenants, CycleBar, an indoor cycling studio; Golftec, which offers golf lessons and club fittings; and iStretchPlus, a stretching studio. The three tenants will occupy a total of 7,299 square feet and move into space vacated by Outback Steakhouse in 2018.
“These new, health and wellness uses share a target demographic with ShopRite and will benefit from synergies and the increased convenience of adjacency for multiple weekly visits,” Scott Auster, senior vice president and head of leasing at Urban Edge, said in a statement. “And, with a brand-new Marshalls store in place, Huntington Commons will truly combine the best of essential and discretionary retail alongside in-demand services such as fitness and beauty.”
Phenix Salons also is planning to start construction of its space in the shopping center in early 2023, Urban Edge said.
The renovation work at the shopping center started in spring 2021 and is expected to be done in 2023, Auster said.