Many of us have been distracted by the excitement of recent opening of Wegmans grocery store. However, in about 3-1/2 weeks, the Chesterbrook community and its neighbors (me included) are going to be faced with the stark reality of the closing of Genuardi’s grocery store. Citing economic reasons for the closing by the owners of the store (Safeway), the announced closing date is August 21.
Last month when I discussed Genuardi’s closing and the effect that it might have on the Chesterbrook community, it was met with some criticism. But I think over the last 30 days since the owners announced the store’s closing, the impact of the closure has begun to set in; there has been a growing concern by members of the Chesterbrook community relating to several issues. For those residents living in Chesterbrook that do not have access to cars, Genuardi’s closing may present a negative impact on their health and economy without easy access to a local full-service grocery store. I have received several emails from retirees who depend on Genuardi’s (and also the drug store which is rumored to be the next to close) for their shopping needs as well as medical needs.
I know some bristled when I questioned whether a large empty store in a shopping center could have an adverse affect on local housing values. From a long-range standpoint, it would probably be a reasonable guess that an empty anchor store in a residential community shopping area is unlikely to ‘increase’ the value of neighboring properties. We can hope that the shopping center continues to be completely maintained while the space remains vacant and available for lease.
In addition to concern about the loss of a convenient Chesterbrook grocery store and the effect that Genuardi’s closing may (or may not) have on property values, there has been an undercurrent of scuttlebutt on the overall future of the shopping center (not just the grocery store space). I received the following email this morning, which prompted this post:
Good morning Pattye,
I found your June 22nd article about the Genuardi’s closing very informative. I sent it to a friend of mine who remains insistent that the Shopping Center has been sold to a developer who will be turning it into some kind of retirement center. I tried to google that info but came up empty. Can you offer a definitive answer to this issue? There is a dinner bet at stake…lol.
Rumors continue to swirl that Chesterbrook Shopping Center has been sold to a developer and the property will be re-designed as a retirement center. At the July Board of Supervisors meeting, township manager Mimi Gleason was questioned about this rumor. Her response was that she knew of no sale of the property, and further stated that the township had not been approached with a proposed land development project for the property.
I contacted the leasing agent for Chesterbrook at Centro Property but my call has not yet been returned. Their website indicates that Genuardi’s space of 38,502 sq. ft. is available for lease. I reviewed the floorplan of Chesterbrook Shopping Center on Centro’s website and counted the total number of rental units in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center as 42 separate units. I then counted those units that are indicated as ‘available for lease’ and the number was 19. Nearly one-half of the available units in the shopping center are now available for lease, including Genuardi’s. With the addition of Genuardi’s grocery store to the list of ‘available for lease’ units in Chesterbrook Shopping Center, my guess is that greater than 50% of total square footage in the shopping center is now empty.
With an approximate 50% occupancy rate in Chesterbrook Shopping Center (after Genuardi’s closes) I think that there is need for real concern. For those of you who live in one of the villages of Chesterbrook, how do you feel? Where does the Chesterbrook Civic Association stand on this? Is there any kind of pro-active movement by the residents to help turn the commercial area of Chesterbrook around?