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BRIDGEWATER, NJ-Construction is just under way for the Village at Bridgewater, a five-building, 94,000-sf open-air lifestyle shopping center. The General Growth Properties will rise on an eight-acre site adjacent to the developer’s existing Bridgewater Commons. A spring of 2006 opening is anticipated.

The cost of the project has not been released. Only two tenants have been announced so far for the center, which is designed to complement the existing 900,000-sf, three-level enclosed Commons. On board so far for the Village are furniture and accessories retailer Crate & Barrel and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant. According to a spokesman for Bridgewater Commons, “there is plenty of interest in leasing the rest of the space.”

According to the spokesman, the Village’s layout is designed to encourage cross traffic between the new open-air project and the enclosed Commons, which is within walking distance. The latter’s department store anchors are Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s, and the tenant roster numbers 170, including a 14-store food court and a seven-screen movie house.

The Village at Bridgewater is also the final piece of a redevelopment puzzle that began to take shape more than 25 years ago when local officials mapped out a plan for a 110-acre site dubbed the Golden Triangle. Bridgewater Commons itself was completed in 1988 by the Hahn Co. after an RFP competition in which the other finalists were Simon Property Group and the Rouse Co. The redeveloped site also includes several office buildings and the Bridgewater Marriott Hotel, which are all separately owned.

Rouse eventually acquired the mall a few years when what became TrizecHahn shed its shopping center portfolio. Bridgewater Commons then became part of the Chicago-based General Growth’s portfolio last year when that company bought Rouse. By developing the Village at Bridgewater, General Growth is completing plans initiated by Rouse.

Concurrent to construction of the Village, Bridgewater Commons itself is getting some cosmetic remodeling. Also part of the project is a new pedestrian walkway across US Route 22 to connect the mall property with the adjacent town of Somerville. Cost of the walkway is $2 million, according to the mall spokesman.

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