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RARITAN TWP., NJ-Walmart recently opened its doors at Garden Commercial Properties’ 500,000-square-foot Raritan Town Square retail and office complex here. The 143,371-square-foot discount store will serve alongside Lowe’s Home Improvement as an anchor tenant, according to the Short Hills-based developer.

“Walmart fits perfectly into our goal of creating a neighborhood-style shopping destination with a small-town feeling and pedestrian-friendly ambiance,” GCP’s director of leasing Michael Gartenberg tells GlobeSt.com. “For instance, the exterior of the free-standing building has been carefully designed with an intimate brick and concrete façade in contrast to the large, standardized facades found on typical single-level ‘big-box’ retail stores.”

The Walmart opening also signifies the start of phase two at Raritan Town Square, which includes the groundbreaking of a 5,000-square-foot IHOP restaurant scheduled to open in the spring of 2010, indicates Gartenberg.

The center is already home to Longhorn Steakhouse, and this focus on food-based retailers should bode well for the property. The restaurant industry represents over 4% of the US’s gross domestic product and employs 9% of the workforce, according to the National Restaurant Assoc., which projects an increase of 2.5% in restaurant revenue during 2009. In New Jersey, 2009 revenue is expected to surpass $12.5 billion.

Raritan Town Square is situated in the Flemington corridor of Hunterdon County, where the relatively low cost of living has fueled an influx of new residents over the past several years.

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