STAFFORD – With the recent closing down of the Kmart in the Route 72 shopping center, it is expected that new ownership will bring with it new stores, such as Old Navy and Burlington Coat Factory, to replace what was once Kmart. Stafford will also be acquiring a Panera Bread and a Chick-fil-a restaurant, officials said.
In addition to these new shopping options, some familiar stores will be relocating within the plaza. Officials said TJ Maxx and HomeGoods will be moving from their original location next to the Famous Footwear to the end of the plaza into the Kmart vacancy. Michael’s Arts & Crafts will also be joining TJ Maxx in this relocation. Burlington Coat Factory is expected to take the place of TJ Maxx as these developments proceed. It is still unknown what will become of the current Michaels Arts & Crafts location after the move.
As Michaels Arts & Crafts and TJ Maxx and HomeGoods combine with Old Navy to fill the Kmart vacancy, divider walls will be put up in the building to accommodate all three stores, according to Jim Moran, Stafford Township administrator.
Asked about whether the original Kmart entrance will be split into separate entrances for each new store, Moran said, “We have no idea of those details at this point.”
With the introduction of these new establishments into Stafford, the hope is to improve the overall quality of the area for residents and shoppers, according to Moran.
“It will not only make the area more functional, but also much prettier,” said Moran.
Moran noted that the new businesses will increase tax ratables and employment opportunities for Stafford as well.
Employees in the area observed that these new additions will improve business. Jeanine, manager at the Mandee clothing store located next to what used to be Kmart, concluded that a TJ Maxx and Old Navy directly next to her store will be good for business.
“I definitely think that this will increase business for us,” said Jeanine. She also mentioned that Stafford has been in need of newer eating establishments.
“I think we need more and better restaurants here, we only have Friday’s,” she said.
Some Manahawkin residents also think that the new businesses will be beneficial in many ways.
“Having those bigger businesses won’t change too much of the atmosphere since there has always been big corporate stores in those plazas,” resident Kara Bilgrav said. “I think it’s good that more popular stores are taking up that space so that they are more likely to be successful.”
On top of these attractions coming to Stafford, there are more commercial ratables on the table. AtlantiCare has bought what used to be Pizza Hut and Pathmark, near the Walmart on Route 72. These two spaces have been renovated and transformed. One of which is a new AtlantiCare Urgent Care center. The other is a Health Park that has multiple medical services. These newly renovated buildings have already increased the aesthetic of the area, whereas before they were vacant spaces in an empty parking lot.
With the anticipation of a new Burlington Coat Factory and Old Navy to raise the quality of shopping alongside the renovation of old businesses, Stafford Township is working hard to boost the overall aesthetic of the town, according to Moran.
“It is a win-win for everyone,” said Moran.