For more than a decade, Harry Scull has been watching the development of Center Point Plaza and its adjacent properties on Tilton Road from his business across the street.
"I've seen (new businesses) come and I've seen them go," said Scull, second-generation owner of Tilton Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service on Tilton Road in Northfield. "We've been here for 42 years, and when my dad first opened there was nothing around here. It's slowly built up through the years."
Recently, Scull, of Galloway Township, has been watching the development of the Northfield Tiki Tee Miniature Golf Course, the area's most recent addition, which opened last weekend. He said he welcomes the new business.
The $250,000, approximately 70,000-square-foot, 19-hole miniature golf course, which was designed in a Polynesian theme with faux tiki huts, totem poles and bright-blue waterfalls, is located next to the Center Point Plaza on the corner of Tilton Road and Northfield Avenue. The business will operate from April to November, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and to 11 p.m. on weekends.
"They built it in record time," Scull said. "The last thing that was there was a pizza joint, Pizza Di Roma 3. Whoever bought the place tore it down and it's been sitting empty for years."
Local developer George Siganos, of Siganos Management in Northfield, purchased the undeveloped land some years ago and recently decided to convert it into a miniature golf course after getting approval from the Planning Board in June. During that meeting, one resident voiced concerns over additional traffic in the area, but Police Chief Robert James said so far there have not been any issues raised.
Among other things, Siganos also owns and has developed Center Point Plaza and Yogurt Swirls, a frozen yogurt shop in the shopping center, adjacent to the golf course. The shop opened in August 2012.
Rosie Sher, the manager of both Northfield Tiki Tee and Yogurt Swirls, said Siganos' goal in building the miniature golf course next to the frozen yogurt shop was to create a destination area for local families and teens where they could spend an evening out without having to leave the mainland. She said the two businesses are meant to complement each other.
"My boss is all about the community," Sher said. "He wants to bring things to the area for local families to do without having to get in the car, drive to the boardwalk, pay for parking, deal with the crowds and so on. It's all about them. Northfield needed this."
On Aug, 10, the Saturday of the miniature golf course's opening weekend, 243 people golfed and the yogurt shop was also packed throughout the day, Sher said.
"We were jammin'," she said, "and we didn't even advertise."
Brennan DeWolf, 16, a seasonal employee at Yogurt Swirls and a resident of Galloway Township, said he's noticed a lot of people talking about the miniature golf course on Facebook, and he thinks it will be a popular destination for people his age and families with young children.
"I've already recognized some faces," DeWolf said.
Scull said he's excited to see another new business opening on Tilton Road.
"I love this area because there's pretty much a little bit of everything right here," he said. "You have a vacuum store, a furniture store, you can get snacks, you can get frozen yogurt, you can get cakes, you can get jewelry. If I need something, I just put a sign on my store that says 'Be back in five minutes.'"
He said he's planning to take his 8-year-old daughter to Northfield Tiki Tee and Yogurt Swirls this weekend.
"We'll go golfing and then after we'll get frozen yogurt," he said. "She'll have a blast."
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