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June 12, 2017

NYC firm spends $20M to create modern Milford shopping plaza

PHOTOS/GRANT WELKER Construction crews creating a new loading dock for Stop & Shop, which is expected to open in Milford Crossing by November.
Workers install a new facade at Milford Crossing, where Stop & Shop and another retailer are replacing a Kmart and World Gym.
rENDERING COURTESY This rendering shows a new look for the former Kmart plaza after a $20-million-plus renovation and expansion.

The outlook was bleak for the shopping plaza off Route 109 in Milford, with Kmart, the steakhouse Bugaboo Creek and World Gym all vacating the property in less than a two-year span starting in 2014. All that remained was a Dollar Tree and Salon Centric.

The crisis turned out to be an opportunity for the longtime plaza owner.

Now, New York City property manager RD Management is remaking the old Kmart as a Stop & Shop grocery store and has plans to expand a second building and add a third, creating a total of 15 retail spaces in what is now called Milford Crossing.

After an investment of more than $20 million, the plaza will grow to more than 180,000 square feet and look nothing like the 1970s-era center that it was.

“This is going to be a different center,” said Al Rossi, senior vice president for RD Management, as he gave a tour of the space that will become Stop & Shop this fall. “This is all the stuff you do behind the scenes. People will come in here and shop, and they'll never know what it took to get there.”

Overhauling the retail experience

With the Medway Road plaza almost entirely vacant, RD found it the right time to start over. The parking lot was dug up, and a new drainage system is being installed. Asbestos was removed, and the building was stripped down to only the concrete floor and steel shell. Kmart's old garage doors were covered up, and a bigger loading dock was installed for those who will bring deliveries to Stop & Shop.

“Everything is affected,” Rossi said of overhauling the space from a retailer to a grocer. “Architecturally, mechanically.”

Stop & Shop, which is moving from the Quarry Square Shopping Center about a mile away, is expected to open in November. A second large retailer, yet to be announced, will open in the former gym space right next to Stop & Shop. Dollar Tree and Salon Centric will remain, even as the building is renovated and expanded around them. By July, work will start on a new 20,000-square-foot building that will feature a restaurant and a drive-through Starbucks, each with outdoor seating, and other shops.

RD Management - which also operates centers in Billerica and Lowell, and 82 others nationally - is in talks with several national retailers.

“We have a lot of work to do between now and the end of the year,” Rossi said.

Creating a new Milford destination

In recent years, new development in Milford was concentrated off the town's other exit off Interstate 495, exit 20, with Lowe's Home Improvement, Best Buy and Target. But the stretch of road off Exit 19 where Milford Crossing is could see additional growth.

Aside from Milford Crossing and a nearby plaza with a Kohl's, Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores and others, a property across the street is also ripe to finally be developed.

That mostly vacant site, with about eight developable acres, has attracted interest from national retailers, but first, the intersection at Medway Road must be reconfigured to allow traffic to enter the site.

“We have some tenants that want to be there, if we can get the access,” said Tony Pinto, a broker for Pinto Real Estate in Milford, which is looking to develop the vacant property.

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