VINELAND - A new supermarket here could pump new life into development plans for a stretch of West Landis Avenue.
Additional traffic attracted to the area by the $25 million ShopRite facility is something local officials hope will convince developers that new commercial ventures in that area would be successful.
A new Taco Bell already is planned to be built across from the ShopRite site, city Economic Development Director Sandra Forosisky said.
"Do you think it would be located there if it weren't for the ShopRite?" she asked.
The 89,000-square-foot supermarket, which has a retail liquor outlet, opened June 5 on a portion of the avenue between Route 55 and Delsea Drive. City officials have long wanted to turn that area into an economic gateway to the downtown business district, a plan stymied in recent years by the recession.
But the plan has had some success over the years: There is a super Walmart across West Landis Avenue from the ShopRite. Several hotels and eateries are situated at the West Landis Avenue-Route 55 interchange. A Walgreens opened recently on the corner of West Landis Avenue and Delsea Drive, replacing an abandoned restaurant.
Developing the rest of the area has been a struggle, but the new supermarket venture could help, Forosisky said.
"It's just going to have a domino effect," Mayor Ruben Bermudez said. "You can't go wrong with that type of set up."
There are still some obstacles to overcome.
Potential developers might have to buy up many small parcels of land along West Landis Avenue to meet the size requirements of their projects. The ShopRite was built on land purchased by the city several years ago to improve a blighted property.
Bermudez said it's unlikely the city would buy up small properties to create a larger parcel that might be attractive to developers. Property owners here often increase the price of their properties that the city might want to buy, he said.
Instead, the city would consider entering into development partnership with companies that might want to build new commercial ventures on the avenue, he said.
"That is something we could do down the line," Bermudez said.
Another problem is that city sewer lines do not run the length of the venue.
Lisa VanMeter is a co-owner of Rental City, next to the ShopRite. The Bottino family, which built the ShopRite, recently bought that business, which is moving to a site on West Avenue, she said.
VanMeter said it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to run sewer lines to her Rental City business. The avenue site has public sewer, she said.
"It would have been nice to have sewer here," she said, adding that would be an incentive for future commercial development in the area.
Forosisky said extending sewer lines the length of the avenue's commercial strip is something she believes will "get resolved" in the future. Bermudez said that is something the city could consider doing.
In the meantime, Forosisky said, developers are inquiring about possible West Landis Avenue commercial projects.
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