RICHBORO >> Giant changes are coming to the Richboro Plaza on Second Street Pike as the old gives way to the new.
For years, local residents purchased their groceries here, picked up a sandwich or a soup and gave generously to local groups and organizations standing outside its doors.
This month, as heavy machinery moved in, the former Murray’s Richboro Market at the Richboro Plaza on Second Street Pike came crumbling down, much of it reduced to dust and a pile of twisted metal and debris.
Also gone is the former home of Carriage Stop, a 50 year staple in Richboro for gifts and cards, and Pretzel Factory.
The demolition no doubt has locals reminiscing about the former store, which served as a hub for decades not just for groceries, but as a place to find out what was happening in town.
Through the years, the store built a reputation for giving back, making donations to community groups, causes and organizations, and allowing everyone, from politicians to athletic groups to lobby for causes and to fundraise outside the store.
And the store’s long time owner, Murray Battleman, was a beloved fixture in the community always providing jobs to local teens and college students and supporting innumerable causes.
For decades, the grocery store served the needs of the community, first as a Shop N Bag, then as an IGA and more recently as Murray’s Richboro Market. The store shut its doors in December 2018, the victim of increased competition and the center’s major facade construction project that proved to be too much for the struggling store.
While Murray’s is gone, the grocery tradition will continue at the plaza as Carlisle-based Giant invests millions to bring a brand new, 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art grocery store to the site.
“We are very excited to be a part of this project and by the plans that have been put together,” said Kerry Eck, who manages real estate for Giant. “Giant has been keenly interested in bringing one of its grocery stores to this market. This is a great opportunity for us. And it’s going to make this shopping center look great.”
In addition to its standard offerings of meats, seafood, dairy, floral and bakery, Eck said the new Richboro Giant will offer a fresh, new produce offering highlighting locally-harvested, in-season products.
“We’ll also be bringing our wildly-popular sushi program here. And our healthy natural organic line, which is a growing category for us,” said Eck.
Also incorporated into the new store will be Giant’s new meals solution line, which it is currently piloting in Central Pennsylvania. The line includes various grab and go prepared foods. “Families are getting busier and busier and they are looking for meal solutions, everything from ready to eat to take home and heat up to take home and bake,” said Eck.
The store will also carry a selection of beer and wine. “We believe we have an excellent offering.”
The new Giant will ensure the future viability of the shopping center, said Dan Hughes, chairman and principal of Metro Commercial Real Estate, during testimony before the township’s zoning hearing board last fall.
“Our goal is to position the center for the long term with a quality design and securing high quality tenants,” said Hughes. “The closing of Murray’s Market has given us and the residents of Richboro the opportunity to achieve this goal by making the center a high quality amenity and something the residents can be proud of for years to come.”
In addition to the new Giant, the shopping center’s redevelopment plan includes reconfiguring the shopping center’s parking lots and entrances to make them safer and bringing them into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act.
The main entrance on 2nd Street Pike will be reconfigured to eliminate the dangerous cross traffic into and out of the parking lots. In addition, the entrance will be expanded to include a new left turn lane onto 2nd Street Pike and a through lane.
The plan will also improve safety at the entrance off of the Richboro Road, bringing traffic to a “T” intersection and preventing traffic from accelerating into the parking area, which has been a longtime problem.
To meet the requirements of the township’s village overlay district, the developer will also be installing decorative street lights, planting new street trees and installing a sidewalk along its frontage on 2nd Street Pike, including a connection to Veterans Plaza next door.
A new underground drainage system will also be added to the site, built to handle the runoff produced by the renovated and expanded center. Today, much of the center drains into several inlets at one corner of the center.
The addition of the Giant will expand the shopping center by about 12,350 square feet, boosting impervious coverage at the site from 78 to 79.9 percent.
The new grocery store is expected to open early next year.