Montgomery's Village Shopper Makes Way for the New Village Walk — with a Few Changes to the Plan
By Barbara A. Preston | May 11, 2022
Goodbye to the three-piece strip mall known as Village Shopper, built in Montgomery Township in the 1980s. Contractors demolished the remaining row of storefronts the week of May 11 .
The new Village Walk at Montgomery is underway at 1330-1340 Route 206 near the Route 518 intersection. Dubbed "Downtown Montgomery," the mixed-use center is being developed by Pugliese Properties, which also owns the adjacent Village Shoppes (Wells Fargo Bank, Mooyah, Princeton Pediatrics, and more.)
A three-story commercial/residential structure will replace the single story strip mall. It will have 52 residential apartments (including 11 affordable units) on the second and third floors, with commercial / retail space on the first floor.
Developer Brett Pugliese, who grew up in Montgomery and is VP of Pugliese Properties, appeared before the Montgomery Township Planning Board on April 25, asking for amendments to the approved final site plan. Specifically, the new plan:
Reduces the retail anchor building to 9,995 square feet from the approved 12,000 square foot. (This building may have one business or multiple businesses when leased.)
Reduces retail buildings A and B from 5,752 SF each to 5,277 SF each.
Reconfigures the parking lot in front of the anchor building, adding an increase of 12 parking spaces.
Eliminates a water feature planned for the front of the apartment building and replaces it with a decorative wall and an identity sign to be landscaped and up-lit.
In addition, Pugliese asked the planning board for a new phasing plan, reordering the order in which the buildings, parking lots, and public roads will be built.
During the meeting, there was a lot of talk about completing the new "Village Drive." This road would begin at a Route 206 traffic light and extend through Village Walk to the new and newish 523 housing units behind it, which includes: an 86-unit apartment building, the 107-unit Montgomery Crossing luxury townhouse development currently under construction, the Tapestry development (218 homes), and Hillside at Montgomery (23 apartments and 89 single-family homes).
Village Walk's planned mixed-used apartment building, being a substantial size with 52 units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms, would take 2.5 to 3 years to complete, according to Christopher J. Szalay of PE Menlo Engineering Associates based in Highland Park.
The new order of construction
The Montgomery Planning Board approved the following changes.
Phase 1a is almost complete: Starbucks, Jersey Mike's Subs, and Hand & Stone opened this week. Orange Theory Fitness has yet to open. Half of a new inner loop road connecting Route 206 and 518 around the Tiger's Tiger restaurant, Brecknell Way, is still under construction. Sharbell Development Corp, which is constructing luxury rowhomes behind Montgomery Walk, has not been able to start their half of the project.
From left: Employees of Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Rachel Bey of Highland Park, Nicole Petroni, and Josephine Kohanski of Ringoes. The spa opened the week of May 12.
Phase 1b: Two retail buildings on Route 206 will be constructed next (rather than the mixed residential unit.) Also, Village Drive, a public road, will be built out, allowing a connection from Route 206, through the Montgomery Crossing/Hillside developments. Buildings A and B were originally proposed to be constructed in Phase 2B and the parking area with US Route 206 improvements were in Phase 2A.
The red line is the continuation of Village Drive, which leads from Georgetown Franklin Turnpicke (Route 518, through the new housing developments, to the traffic light on Route 206 by the entrance to ShopRite.
Phase 2A: Construction of the anchor building is proposed to be completed in Phase 2A. This includes the remainder of Village Walk to the intersection with Tamworth Drive.
Phase 2B: Construction of the mix-use apartment building is proposed to be constructed in Phase 2B. Parking improvements include parking immediately to the east of the Multi-Use building and the entire western parking area behind the Multi-Use and anchor buildings. Roadway improvements include paving one-half the Tamworth Drive cartway. Construction of this building was originally part of the Phase 1 schedule.
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Vice President Pugliese explained that "The Village Walk project started in 2008, when Pugliese Properties acquired the Village Shopper 3 Center. It was a tired, outdated shopping center built in the 1980s and need of redevelopment."
"In 2016, Village Shopper 1 and 2 became available. Pugliese made the decision to acquire the property and took the first steps towards creating The Village Walk of Montgomery.
"For five years, we have designed, planned, and executed the redevelopment of this property," Pugliese said. "We constructed a new 10,000 sq ft building with high-quality materials and extreme attention to detail. This building is also fully leased with four strong tenants: Starbucks, Orange Theory Fitness, Jersey Pete's Subs, and Hand & Stone Massage."
The Montgomery Business Association and Montgomery Deputy Mayor Shelly Bell helped the owner's of Jersey Mike's Subs, based in Point Pleasant, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at their grand opening on Wednesday, May 11.
The original Village Walk build-plan accommodated tenants in the Village Shopper 2 building. "We were committed to working around this building in order to keep the tenants operational," Pugliese said. "The building is now empty so the phasing can change."
Demolition began on Tuesday, May 10. "Pugliese Properties is developing one of the longest tracts of mixed-used with commercial frontage in Montgomery spanning, over 900 feet on Route 206.
"We take great pride in this project. My family has bee in Montgomery for 35 years," he added. "We have strong ties to the town."
Starbucks drive-thru and restaurant opened on Tuesday, May 10. A new public road, to be called Brecknell Way, is about half way complete. Drivers may enter from Route 206 to access Starbucks for now. Eventually, the new road will continue through to Route 518. Photos by Barbara A. Preston.