Pick a national retailer or restaurant chain, and chances are, you’ll find it in Livingston. In recent years, this Western Essex County community has emerged as one of Northern New Jersey’s primary economic hubs, attracting a growing number of brand-name national and regional retailers to complement its many home-grown businesses.
Livingston-based real estate developer Eastman Companies has been committed to cultivating the township’s retail landscape for decades, according to Peter Schofel, the firm’s co-managing partner. Eastman Companies owns and manages two of the township’s key neighborhood shopping destinations: The 93,000-square-foot The Fresh Market at The Shoppes at the Livingston Circle (formerly named The Village at Livingston), along with its sister property, Circle Plaza, a 20,000-square-foot boutique retail center.
“We built The Village in 1992 and Circle Plaza one year later. These two properties were our company’s first foray into retail development, and both centers – conveniently located off the Livingston Circle – immediately helped to fill a void within the township,” said Schofel. “At the time, there were very few retail service providers available to consumers in that part of Livingston. The supermarket-anchored The Village at Livingston brought a range of goods and services to a population that previously had to travel across town or to a neighboring community.”
Livingston’s strong demographics and population diversity, “have proven to be a winning combination for new retailers coming into the township,” added Schofel. “This is a very close-knit community and our residents prefer to stay in town and shop locally if they can. The retail growth here, in part, is a testament to that,” he said.
More than two decades later, Eastman Companies’ Livingston shopping centers continue to thrive and evolve: Circle Plaza, home to Men’s Wearhouse, recently welcomed Dunkin Donuts, and national mid-priced home furnishings chain Bassett Furniture will join the tenant mix in Golfsmith’s former location. At The Shoppes at the Livingston Circle, specialty grocer The Fresh Market opened last fall in a portion of that center’s former Pathmark store. The 23,000-square-foot Livingston Fresh Market represents the chain’s third New Jersey location.
“The Fresh Market offers very fresh produce and high-end, high-quality food. For local shoppers, it’s been a nice alternative to the other supermarkets in town. At the same time, the grocer’s presence has generated additional consumer traffic to the center. Since The Fresh Market opened we have welcomed Choice Pet Supply, and two additional retailers – Ike’s Bagel Café and Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa – will celebrate their grand openings later this spring,” Schofel said.
According to Beth Lippman, executive director of the Livingston Community Partnership, which runs the Business Improvement District, this influx of new retailers to the township shows no signs of slowing. In the last year, she said Livingston has seen more than 30 new businesses either set up shop or announce plans to open here, including national chains such as beauty superstore ULTA, 18/8 Fine Men’s Salon, The Container Store, Buy Buy Baby, World Market, DSW Shoes, TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, among many others. Several locally owned service providers, including a hair salon, insurance professionals and Summit Medical Group, also have opened within the township.
“Livingston’s central location, proximity to major highways, population density and exceptional demographics are among the factors that make the township extremely attractive to a wide range of retailers. Regional and national retailers usually do very well here,” said Lippman.
The Fresh Market at The Shoppes at the Livingston Circle and Circle Plaza are situated along Route 10 in one of northern New Jersey’s most desirable retail corridors. The well-maintained, well-positioned shopping centers serve a growing residential population of more than 158,000 people within a five-mile radius. The marketplace offers an average household income of more than $141,000, and the daily traffic count exceeds 39,000 vehicles.
Lippman added that the inflow of new businesses not only helps to stimulate the local economy, but it gives residents even more reason to shop and dine within the township. “Livingston also is home to the Livingston Mall, a regional indoor shopping center, as well as Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Someone literally could spend their entire life in Livingston and never have to leave in order to find all the goods and services they desire.”