The re-energizing of Bishops Corner is about to take a giant leap forward with the announcement Wednesday of two national tenants moving into the Edens property on the southwest corner of North Main St. and Albany Ave. Plans for the renovation and revitalization of this shopping center were unanimously approved by the West Hartford Town Council last spring.
The largest new tenant, “Neighborhood Market by Wal-Mart,” will open by late 2012 in the long-vacant 50,000 square foot space once occupied by Adams Supermarket. The adjacent parking garage will be demolished this spring, paving the way for additional site improvements.
According to Jodie McClean, President and Chief Investment Officer of Edens, Neighborhood Market is not to be confused with a big box store. “The Neighborhood Market is a grocery store only and will offer the same brand name goods and products that are offered in West Hartford’s other traditional grocery stores. It will offer fresh produce, groceries, and household goods from familiar brand names and local producers,” McClean said via email.
Customers should expect goods to be sold at “great everyday value,” and as the opening nears, the company will determine the final layout and inventory of local products, McClean said. According to a release issued by Edens, Neighborhood Market plans to hire more than 100 new full and part-time employees.
There are currently 181 Neighborhood Market stores nationwide, but the West Hartford store will be the first in Connecticut as well as the first venture into the northeast. The nearest store is in Washington, D.C.
Director of Community Services Rob Rowlson said he is “very, very happy about Neighborhood Market.” Rowlson is pleased that a new market is occupying the former market space, and also that Neighborhood Market will be offering brand name products at a discount.
“It’s good for the regeneration of the plaza, and the competition is good for the neighborhood,” Rowlson said. He has reviewed photos of other Neighborhood Market stores, and is pleased with their upscale appearance.
Although the style of Neighborhood Market may not fit the typical mold of a traditional big box Wal-Mart store, it will offer the reasonable pricing that customers of the discounter have come to expect. “Wal-Mart is a very good retailer, and they have always delivered a good product at a competitive price. I think you’ll definitely find me doing some of my shopping there,” said Rowlson.
In addition to Neighborhood Market, a franchise of a national family-style restaurant will open next to in the Bishops Corner Shopping Plaza this spring. Noodles & Company, which began in Colorado in the mid-1990s, will also begin its northeast expansion with the opening of the West Hartford restaurant. Currently, the closest locations are in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area.
According to their website, Noodles & Company offers “noodles, sandwiches, and salads from around the world.” The focus, not surprisingly, is on all different types of noodles, with an emphasis on American, Asian, and Mediterranean cuisines. The cost of an average meal in the family-style restaurant is just $7.00, according to the website.
“I love noodles from every culture in the world – always have,” said Rowlson, who believes Noodles & Company will quickly become a West Hartford mainstay.
Other plans for the shopping center’s redevelopment are moving forward in accordance with the plans approved by the Town Council last spring.
Edens focuses on development and redevelopment with an emphasis on creating neighborhood gathering spaces, and the company is following that plan for Bishops Corner. “We are excited about re-energizing the Bishops Corner neighborhood with the redevelopment of the center. We will have several well designed and intimate gathering spaces for neighbors to meet and reconnect as well as hand picked best of class local and unique retailers that will be reflective of the community,” McClean said in the release.
Those tenants include Sacred Movement Yoga Studio, which opened next to iParty in January, and DotCom Wines which will relocate to the former Barnes & Noble space this spring. New England Integrated Health Associates, which focuses on natural and nutrition-based approaches to health and wellness, held its grand opening in late January.
Marshall’s has signed a new long-term lease and will be remodeling the interior of the store this year, and Bank of America has also signed a new long-term lease according to Edens.
Edens also reported that façade work has been completed on the exterior of Marshalls and will continue in other areas of the shopping center. Other site improvements are ongoing as well.
Rowlson is thrilled that two national organizations have chosen West Hartford to begin their Northeast expansion plans. “It shows that we’ve been doing the right things all along, and that we are a very good market. I’m very proud to say that we’re a cut above,” said Rowlson, who also views this news as a good overall indicator of the economy’s improvement.
Future updates can be found through the Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association Facebook page www.facebook.com/bishopscorner, or by following @BishopsCorner on Twitter. More information about Edens can be found at www.edens.com.