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BOONTON, NJ-Boonton Investors LLC, a development group based here, will roll out its plans tomorrow (Wednesday) night for a 189,500-sf, big box-anchored shopping complex in this northern Morris County community of some 10,000. The developer got an okay for its preliminary site plan about a year ago, and is now aiming to get final planning board approval to do the project.

The center would rise on a vacant 23-acre site formerly used by Pacific Vegetable Oil International. The company filed for bankruptcy a decade ago, shut down its operations shortly thereafter, and the site has been unused since. Drew Chemical utilized the site for many years prior to PVO’s occupancy.

Complicating matters for Boonton Investors is the fact that the tract is heavily polluted and needs remediation. Any development can’t proceed until the both the Department of Environmental Protection, both state and federal, sign off on it and proper permits are in place. Existing buildings on the site would be demolished to make way for the new shopping complex, under the developer’s plan

What Boonton Investors has in mind, according to project manager Jim Cavanaugh, is just under 190,000 sf of retailing, including a bank and a restaurant. The complex would be anchored by a “big box” retailer to be named. Home Depot was an early candidate, but negotiations with the home improvement chain broke off some time ago. Now, Boonton Investors is said to be deep into negotiations with Wal-Mart to fill the slot. According to a published report, Wal-Mart is said to be a “good possibility” for the complex.

According to plans that will be unveiled tomorrow night before the local planning board, the anchor tenant to-be-named would occupy a building in the vicinity of 135,000 sf, plus a garden center of approximately 15,000 sf. The remainder of the tenant mix has yet to be announced.

Besides normal tax revenues that would be generated by the project, the city of Boonton figures to get a minor windfall if officials give the project the go-ahead. The city is owed something more than $1 million in back taxes from the site, which the developer is said to have agreed to pay.

The project is said to have a significant amount of support from local residents and officials. One negative issue that figures to be raised at tomorrow night’s planning board meeting is one that’s part of any development scenario in the Garden State–the impact of traffic.

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