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SECAUCUS, NJ-Wal-Mart Stores is set to open both Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club units this month at Hartz Mountain Industries’ Harmon Meadow mixed-use development here. The 173,137-sf Wal-Mart and 155,802-sf Sam’s Club will boost the total retail space within the sprawling project to almost 830,000 sf.

Another 200,000 sf of retail is planned for three other sites within Harmon Meadow, and the overall project, which has been under development for some 25 years, has a total of 3.5 million sf of commercial space.

“Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are an important part of Harmon Meadow’s make-up and a vital step in the evolution of its retail component into a major regional destination,” says Emanuel Stern, president and COO of the locally based Hartz. “Their presence has already created an enhanced retail environment for both our existing tenants and the new tenants that we anticipate.”

The two stores should also give Hartz some new weapons against its looming competition: Harmon Meadow is a short distance from the site of Meadowlands Xanadu, the massive $1.2-billion retail, entertainment, office and hotel development being done by the Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Realty. The two developers recently signed a contract with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority to build Xanadu around the existing Continental Airlines Arena, but Hartz, a losing bidder for the project, is still pursuing legal action against it.

In any event, “we look forward to developing good relations with customers and merchants to make this a stronger retail trade center,” says Mia Masten, Wal-Mart’s community affairs manager.

Besides the two new stores, Hartz has been ramping up its Harmon Meadow retail package in several other ways. The property’s Olive Garden Restaurant has recently been rebuilt, and both Cheeseburger in Paradise and Red Lobster are being added to the mix. And some cosmetic changes are in the works, including an updating of the retail signage.

“When Harmon Meadow was built in 1979, it was a breakthrough in suburban mixed-use development, a term that has become a buzzword in the smart-growth arena,” Stern says. “Our intention is to ensure that Harmon Meadow remains a relevant component of the region, and the addition of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, along with renewing the retail areas, are major steps in achieving that goal.”

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