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RARITAN TWP., NJ-Construction is just under way for Raritan Town Center, a 520,000-sf mixed-use development that has been in the works for more than five years. The Garden Commercial Properties’ project is slated for completion in the spring of next year.

The Short Hills, NJ-based Garden Commercial, a subsidiary of Garden Homes, has its two primary big-box anchor tenants signed for the project. Both Wal-Mart and Lowe’s Home Improvement are on board as the retail anchors of a project that will encompass a dozen buildings. While the retail will be the dominant factor at Raritan Town Center, the project will also include both office and civic space.

The project has been designed as a power retail center with elements of a community shopping center, entertainment, civic center and office park, according to Scott Loventhal, director of development for Garden Commercial. “It will be pedestrian-friendly with a downtown atmosphere,” he says. “Hunterdon County’s suburban environment and relatively low cost of living have resulted in a significant rise in population over the past few years.

“The growing residential base has led to the need for additional local shops, services and national retailers,” Loventhal says. “As a result, the Route 31 commercial corridor has become a sought-after retail destination. Raritan Town Center will fit into this corridor by adding some of the country’s most recognizable brand stores.”

Located at the intersection of State Route 31 and County Route 523 in the west-central part of the state, Raritan Town Center is rising on the site of the former Flemington Fairgrounds and Speedway, the long-time home of the Hunterdon County Fair. The project had its genesis in 2001 when the property was acquired from its private owners.

Formal plans for Raritan Town Center were subsequently announced in early 2005, and preliminary approval was granted by local officials later that year. Final approval for the project came this past October.

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