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Drug Fair May Get Split in Half

Two different businesses have expressed interested in renting the site, but not at its full size.

Residents of could soon see businesses in the empty storefront in the Chatham Mall on Shunpike Road.

Neil Richards, the real estate agent leasing the property, confirmed that two separate businesses are interested in leasing portions of the storefront. "We're in the process of subdividing the Drug Fair space," Richards said.

No leases have been signed, and Richards said until they are he would not comment on what kind of businesses are interested in filling the space. The leases could be signed as early as the first week of August.

Chatham Township officials have searched for a business to fill the empty storefront for more than two years. Even in February, in the town, as an incentive to fill the space was a key point in the discussion.

"People are looking at the economic situation and realizing that Madison and Chatham and Summit are not hurting as much as [they] were," Committee Member Bailey Brower, Jr. said.

Township Clerk Greg LaConte said the Drug Fair space is located in the B-1 business center district zone. Permitted uses in the B-1 district are:

  • retail stores and shops
  • cleaning and tailoring shops, provided there is no dry cleaning on the premises
  • restaurants where patrons are served food tables and counters, but food is not ordered or delivered outdoors
  • theaters
  • banks and financial institutions
  • offices for professional, business and executive purposes

If the businesses that want to rent the space wish to apply for a change of use, they must go before the township's Planning Board. Otherwise, LaConte said, "usually whenever a new store comes in they have to go before the Zoning Board."

Brower said he was "cautiously optimistic" the space will soon be filled. "The main thing is, we're getting some movement down there," he said.

In February, Chatham Patch asking readers to vote on what kind of business they would like to see in the space. Nearly two-thirds of —71 votes out of 110—said they would prefer to see a restaurant such as Cracker Barrel or a sports bar in town.

Others suggested an ice rink, a teen center or a Trader Joe's.

anywednesday July 25, 2012 at 04:21 PM
It would be nice to see an existing LOCALLY-based business, like the Roberts movie theater, or a bar/restaurant with live entertainment, that would like to move/expand their business - or establish a second location - and benefit by the zoning and abundant parking situation. I would certainly favor a local business over a chain. The Teen center is also a great idea: movies, live theater/performance space, sports, games, juice bar, party hall, even arts and trades activities and classes, like music composition, playwriting, painting, woodworking, etc., all youth-organized and executed.
Janet Doherty July 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Still would like to see Trader Joe's here-along with a coffee shop w/seating. Maybe Hickory Tree Deli or other local deli would like to expand and have seating.
Bob Scaglione July 26, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I just submitted a form to Chipotle. They are looking for locations where they can also serve beer and margaritas. Their food is fresh and tastes great. A Mexican grill would be a great addition to our town in my opinion!
Bob Scaglione July 26, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I agree Janet, I also sent a form in to Trader Joe's a while back but I never heard from them.
hwan July 30, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I agree with Janet Doherty. I would love to see a Trader Joe's here. We need a grocery store with good Organic Food selections instead of having to go to Milburn or Florham Park. I hope it is not a arcade or some sports bar as it does not seem to fit in nicely as to what we have now. This area is more quiet and it is too near the new condo ( Rosevalle).Let's keep it that way.

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