Wegmans, a New York-based supermarket chain, is set to be the anchor tenant of a new shopping center in Middletown on Route 35. The proposed development, Shoppes at Middletown, is still under review and must gain the township’s approval, but project planner National Realty & Development Corp. (NRDC) states “Opening 2020” on their website.
The Shoppes at Middletown will house 20 to 30 retailers across 338,000 square feet and is part of a larger development plan known as Village 35 which includes a Toll Brothers residential proposal, creating a very urban environment–“live, work, play,” describes John Orrico, President of National Realty & Development Corp.
Wegmans is a privately-held, family-run supermarket chain that began as a couple of produce pushcarts in 1916. In 1930, brothers John and Walter Wegman opened their first store which was gigantic by the standards of the time at 20,000 square feet and turned heads again with forward-thinking details like vaporized water spray to keep produce fresh and a large cafeteria with seating for 300 customers.
The chain is now run by Walter Wegman’s grandson and great-granddaughters. The company is thoughtful and slow to expand; Middletown will be the third store in Monmouth County, alongside locations in Ocean and Manalapan, and this recent expansion in New Jersey is the first in 10 years. A single Wegman’s store employs hundreds and the company has appeared on the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For list for 20 consecutive years.
However, residents continue to rally against the proposed development both for fear that Middletown will become overdeveloped and because the original plan did not allow for a store the size of Wegmans to be considered because of their 130,000 square foot footprint.