Garden Commercial Properties is busy building retail and mixed-use destinations across New Jersey.
by Lara Fuller

Short Hills, New Jersey-based Garden Commercial Properties, a subsidiary of Garden Homes, is a well-rounded development firm. The privately-held company was established in 1955 to construct single-family homes and has since developed a variety of residential and commercial properties. “We take pride in the fact that we handle almost all aspects of our retail development with in-house staff,” says Scott Loventhal, director of development with Garden Commercial Properties. “We do everything from initial land acquisition, approvals, construction and long-term management.”

When making decisions about development, Garden Commercial considers several criteria. One of the first things the company looks at is location. Garden Commercial likes to develop properties that have good visibility, access to major transportation routes and easy parking. The company also carefully considers the size of the development — preferring to build projects that are not too big. Garden Commercial also watches economic trends to stay on top of what both retailers and customers are looking for, building centers that serve the needs of each community. And most importantly, Garden Commercial stays tuned in to what the customer wants, always making sure it builds projects that are a perfect fit for the target demographic.

Garden Commercial Properties owns and manages more than 20 million square feet of retail and commercial space, with new commercial development exceeding 1 million square feet annually. Many of the company's developments are located in the Northeast, with projects in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island. However, the company also works throughout the United States, with a growing number of projects in states such as California and Florida. Shopping Center Business recently spoke with the company to find out about the company's current and future development plans.

Riverdale Crossing

Riverdale Crossing in Riverdale, New Jersey, is a distinctive power center because of both its location and design. Currently under construction, the 258,000-square-foot project is being developed along Interstate 287 and Highway 23. “With the completion of Interstate 287, this intersection is one of the busiest in Northern New Jersey,” says Loventhal. “In addition, the northeast Morris/southern Passaic County market (where the center is located), continues to see steady growth in multifamily and single-family development.”

In addition to receiving excellent exposure because of its location, Riverdale Crossing will also get attention for its unique design. The retail center will feature a two-story layout, with a Wal-Mart located on the ground floor and The Sports Authority, Borders Books & Music, and Linens n' Things located on the second level. Other tenants include Pier 1 Imports and a Chili's Grill & Bar. Completion is scheduled for 2006.

Boonton Plaza

In northeastern Morris County, New Jersey, Garden Commercial is currently underway on the expansion of the existing Boonton Plaza. The company is adding an additional 23,000 square feet to the center, which is anchored by Wal-Mart. New tenants joining the center include Quiznos Subs and Payless Shoe Source. Situated in the northeastern part of Morris County, the center is located close to three highways including routes 46, 80 and 287. An abundance of parkland and older homes are located nearby and the center offers convenient access to all parts of the tri-state area.

Raritan Town Square

Raritan Town Square is a mixed-use development that will contain elements of a power retail center, community retail center and office park. The development will also feature entertainment uses and a civic center, all in a pedestrian-friendly, downtown-style atmosphere. Garden Commercial hopes that these elements will bring in a range of tenants and area residents. Raritan Town Square is being developed on the former Flemington Fairgrounds and Speedway, at routes 31 and 523 in Raritan, New Jersey. “The Flemington corridor has become a hot area in Hunterdon County for both commercial and retail development,” says Loventhal. “The quaint atmosphere and relatively low cost of living has fueled an influx of new residents over the past few years.”

Tenants at the 510,000-square-foot center will include a Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

Crosspointe Town Square

Garden Commercial recently completed the 400,000-square-foot Crosspointe Town Square in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The development, which adjoins Woodbridge Town Center mall, is in a prime location, with good visibility from Highway 9, the New Jersey Turnpike and Green Street. Within a 5-mile radius of the development is a population of approximately 312,000. The average household income for the area is $71,861. These statistics, combined with the center's location, help make Crosspointe Town Square successful.

In addition to looking for strong demographics and good visibility, Garden Commercial likes to bring large anchors and well-known tenants to its developments. “We pride ourselves on the relationships we have made with many of the nation's largest and most desirable tenants,” says Loventhal. At Crosspointe Town Square, tenants include a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, Wegmans Supermarket, HomeGoods and Treasure Island.

Renaissance Square            

In New Brunswick, New Jersey, Garden Commercial recently completed an expansion of the 145,000-square-foot Renaissance Square shopping center, which is located at Highway 130 and Renaissance Boulevard in Middlesex County. Recently, Middlesex County has seen continued growth in multifamily and single-family housing, as well as in light industrial and commercial development. Renaissance Square is anchored by a ShopRite supermarket and the 55,000-square-foot addition brought in tenants such as Ace Hardware, Quiznos Subs and Hollywood Video.

Over the next few years, Garden Commercial hopes to continue developing community and power centers throughout the Northeast, as well as the rest of the United States. “We will continue our tradition of ground-up development, power retail and mixed-use centers in strong suburban communities throughout the northeastern United States,” says Loventhal. “We intend on developing at least two or three new community, power and mixed-use centers a year from our existing inventory of land and through new land acquisitions.”

This article originally appeared in Shopping Center Business, December 2005. ©2005 France Publications, Inc.

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