STAFFORD TWP., NJ-Two major tenants at the $400 million Stafford Park here are scheduled to open their doors by the end of the month. Target will debut a 137,000-sf space and Best Buy will operate out of 30,162 sf. It is the first store in the Stafford Township market for both retailers.

The two stores join Costco, which opened last month. Costco and Target will anchor the 650,000-sf retail portion of the mixed-use development, which will consist of retail, residential and office space. Fellow retail tenants include Dick’s and PetSmart. According to Ed Walters, founder and partner of the Walters Group–the company developing the site–leases are also being negotiated with Vitamin Shoppe, Longhorn Steakhouse and T-Mobile.

Construction of the Target building began in September 2007, and ground was broken on the 100,000 sf building that will house Best Buy, Dick’s and PetSmart in January of this year. Construction was preceded by a $31 million cleanup of the 370-acre site, where two landfills once stood.

“What we’re doing here is we’re bringing Target, Costco, Dick’s and Petsmart to one place,” says Walters. “People who live in this area have had to travel whenever they needed to shop. Our facility is nice, it’s well landscaped and hopefully when the market comes around, the market plaza area will provide places to eat. It’s more like a shopping experience, and people are excited about having a nice, upscale shopping center to go to rather than a line of stores where you have to drive from one store to the next. We’re providing the ability to walk from one store to the next and spend some shopping.”

Previously, area residents had to travel more than 20 miles to reach the nearest Target. Walters says that the reason Target and Best Buy avoided the area in the past was because there was no location they deemed appropriate for a store location.

According to Walters, at least 250,000 sf of leaseable space remains at the park. The space includes a lifestyle center that will feature higher-end stores and a pad site for a big-box store.

The retail center is scheduled for completion in 2009. The adjacent business park recently added the Ocean County Board of Social Service and the Ocean County Health Department to its tenant roster. Social Service took 17,756 sf spread out over two floors in a 19,500 sf building. The remaining 1,744 sf went to the Health Department.

When completed, Stafford Park will boast the retail component as well as 25,000 sf of office space, 667 housing units and recreational facilities.

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