Clark Business Administrator John Laezza reported that he had good news at council's Jan. 22 meeting: interest from buyers on the vacant former A&P building on Westfield Avenue.
"The A&P owner called and he’s going to set up a meeting within the next two weeks," said Laezza. "He thinks we have positive action."
Laezza said it has been 12 years that the building has sat vacant. He did not reveal who was interested in the space.
Thirty-two percent voted for "retail," while 30 percent chose "other" and 25 percent chose "another supermarket." Our story also garnered a whopping 40 comments as readers wrote in about their vision for the former A&P. Read the story and comments, here.
The Westfield Avenue supermarket was closed several years ago as the much larger A&P Fresh opened on Raritan Road. The property includes the 24,500-square-foot building, plus about 100 parking spaces.
The vacant building has been a point of contention, and Mayor Sal Bonaccorso has been vocal about his frustrations with the empty space in such a high-profile location. According to listing agent Jason Gerbsman of Welco Realty when Patch interviewed him last April, A&P's existing lease had not expired and the supermarket chain was not able to secure a renter for the remainder of their lease.
"I'm deeply disappointed in the ownership of the former Jack's Tavern and A&P for not cooperating," Bonaccorso told Patch in April. "I know a dozen people who approached them for many years, but they were happy collecting rent from A&P. Private property is private property, and we shouldn’t really have a role in someone’s private property, but this is a downtown area if it becomes a blight I will take very aggressive action to put a real plan in place to develop those areas."
Gerbsman responded to the criticism saying that the property owner had just begun actively marketing the space. "You have to understand that it hasn’t been marketed until recently when they brought us on," said Gerbsman. "A&P was still in control of the property."
At that time, Gerbsman said he was looking into both single tenants and possibly dividing up the space.
"It's a freestanding building with terrific access from both Westfield Avenue and Broadway, has great visibility and exposure, and is conveniently located close to the Garden State Parkway," said Gerbsman. "Plus, a big selling point is that it’s in Clark, which is a densely populated, active community."