Even though Michael O’Connor stepped down as executive director of the Bayonne Economic Development Corporation last year, he still beams about several successful economic accomplishments that came to fruition in late 2009: Bayonne Crossing Mall’s groundbreaking on Route 440 and the reconstruction of the ShopRite on Avenue C and its new grand opening just prior to Christmas.
When it originally opened in April 1978, the ShopRite boasted of many cutting-edge features, including 15 electronic checkout counters, an interior pharmacy, and even a bank, along with large departments for fresh and frozen foods, a deli and other goods, and parking that could accommodate 150 cars.
“We are grateful to the Inserra family for their continuing commitment to the Bayonne Community.” — Mayor Mark Smith
“We are all so pleased with the reopening of the beautiful new Bayonne ShopRite,” said Mayor Mark Smith. “We are grateful to the Inserra family for their continuing commitment to the Bayonne community. We appreciate their $15 million investment in Bayonne. ShopRite fills an important niche in our center city. It provides a quality shopping experience for those who do not drive. ShopRite is also a significant Bayonne employer, providing hundreds of jobs for Bayonne residents over the years. Quality merchandise in a convenient location at competitive prices – that’s good for Bayonne.”
But as the times changed, so did the needs of the consumers. And the Inserra family – which owns ShopRite supermarkets elsewhere in Hudson County including Jersey City and North Bergen – realized they needed to expand.
“In the midst of a brutal recession, owner Larry Inserra made an extraordinary financial investment in Bayonne. He has shown a remarkable commitment to our community by building his state-of-the-art store right in the heart of town,” O’Connor said.
Located on what is considered a historic block in Bayonne, which once housed an opera house and theater, the ShopRite has become a key piece in the future economic development of Bayonne.
According to O’Connor, the owners chose to remain and rebuild at the same location rather than moving their operations to some other location.
“The Inserra family made a significant investment in the center of Bayonne by redeveloping at the existing location,” O’Connor said.
The new ShopRite expands its total size from its original 27,000 square feet to 70,000, and includes a 4,000 square foot liquor store it did not have before.
Parking has also been increased despite the fact that the new store occupies a portion of the previous parking lot, providing 181 parking spots in its underground lot and 89 parking spots in the surface lot across 25th Street. Escalators take people and their carts to their cars underground.
By demolishing its old building and building a larger facility on the same location, the store closed and effectively lost almost nine months of business as it reconstructed. Larry Inserra, the CEO of ShopRite in Bayonne, successfully managed to get the store open just in time for Christmas.
But he did not forget his customers during the year, shuttling them from the parking lot on
West 25th Street to the ShopRite store on Marin Boulevard in Jersey City. For those using the pharmacy, Inserra established a trailer facility in the parking lot.
The project is estimated at $15 million.
“The new building has wider aisles, a bakery, a liquor store and other new features,” O’Connor said.
Having ShopRite continue operations in the center of the city helps provide a base for businesses. It adds convenience to senior citizens and others who walk to the store, and it provides jobs, Smith said.
O’Connor, who helped the project along, said the key for it was to have an anchor near Broadway that would help keep customers in the center of the shopping district, and would generate more sales in other businesses along Broadway, which is only a block away.