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A developer from New York plans to fill part of an old gravel pit off Highway 22 and Turner Road en route to one of Salem’s largest retail developments in two decades.

Newman Development Group is in due diligence to purchase of the property. The site is owned by Staats Corp., which is asking nearly $7 million for the land. The site is a prime retail location, with high visibility from Highway 22 and proximity to Interstate 5.

The property has many development advantages. It’s flat and zoned for commercial or industrial uses. A retail development would not require approval from City Council or the planning commission.

However, the state Department of Transportation is apparently not in favor of an extension of Hawthorne Avenue, which would be the most direct access from Highway 22. Instead, shoppers would get to the proposed 350,000-sf center from Turner Road.

Stew Stone, a commercial specialist with Prudential Real Estate Professionals, says the site is better suited for office. Stone considered developing the Turner Road site about five years ago, but he couldn’t make it work without Highway 22 access. Shoppers don’t want to go that far out of their way, he said.

The Newman project is still in the early planning stages. The developers have not applied for building permits. Newman is currently awaiting response from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill in about five acres of a 30-acre manmade lake on the approximately 70-acre site.

If the project does get built, Newman’s Web site says its projects typically are occupied by large, box-type retailers, including Lowe’s home improvement centers, Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

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