The Lawrence Township Zoning Board will hear a plan for a new retail center on Route 1 south on the site of the Mrs. G TV and Appliances store in Lawrence Township.
P. Shields Ferber, president of the Ferber Company, based in Juno Beach, Fla., is proposing a shopping center called Lawrence Commons on the 11-acre tract that includes the current Mrs. G business. In addition to a new Mrs. G store, the center could include businesses such as a convenience store, restaurant, and bank, according to Debbie Schaeffer, CEO of Mrs. G.
Ferber has signed a contract with Schaeffer and her family under which the company is leasing the property, will act as developer of the project, and then control the tenants that locate there.
“We are retailers, not developers, so we needed an expert to develop the property,” Schaeffer says.
The zoning board application, scheduled for Wednesday, May 16, seeks preliminary and final site plan approval and consolidation of lots. The application also asks the board to grant a conditional use and a bulk variance.
The tract is located south of the Bakers Basin Road intersection. In addition to the current Mrs. G store it also includes a long-vacant diner building, a commercial building, and three unoccupied homes.
According to Schaeffer, the developer is working with the state Department of Transportation on a traffic improvement plan for the area that would include changes to the jughandle at Route 1 and Bakers Basin Road.
Meanwhile, Schaeffer says she is excited about the possibility of a new store. “We’ve always had a vision to rebuild a new Mrs. G either on its own or as a part of a bigger development,” says Schaeffer. “I want to be a new state of the art store so I can continue my community involvement.”
“The new store will allow us to keep offering events, making Mrs. G not only a retail store but a wonderful community experience,” Schaeffer adds. “I always say the store is a destination.” As an example she points out that Mrs. G will be hosting a farm to grill event on Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Schaeffer is the third-generation owner of Mrs. G, which was founded some 40 years ago by her grandmother, Beatrice Greenberg, the original Mrs. G. She says that they are aiming for construction to begin in late 2013, with the project taking up to two years to complete.
She says the project is important because it will encourage independent businesses in town. “We have to figure out, and get more independent businesses in community. Especially on the retail side. Money from those businesses goes back into the community.”