Original Tenant: Mayfair Foodtown (?)
Address: 430 Springfield Ave, Berkeley Heights, NJ
Later Tenants: Kings Food Markets (1990s-2013) > New York Marts (planned, never opened)
Photographed: November 2020
Tucked away behind the Stop & Shop and former A&P in Berkeley Heights is a second strip mall, once home to a Mayfair Foodtown and later Kings Food Market at the far back. I don't know much history here, but Kings closed up shop in 2013, moving down the street about two and a half miles to a former Pathmark in Gillette. As far as the origins of the building, I know nothing beyond looking at Historic Aerials to find that the building was constructed between 1963 and 1970, then expanded at least once. The main thing that intrigues me is the building's large size -- at 39,000 square feet, it would be easily one of the largest Kings stores out there and much larger than what most supermarkets were building in the 1960s. It's also a pitched-roof building, though roughly twice as large as the pitched-roof ACMEs that were being built at the time. For that reason, I suspect it was not built as a supermarket but was more likely built as some other facility that commonly would have unusual roofs, such as bowling alleys or roller rinks. A comment left by GUman over on Acme Style gives a very interesting perspective on the store's history: "Mayfair Foodtown had a store in Berkely Hts where the Kings is now [this property], and next door was an abandoned A&P location [linked above] with a strip mall which the Foodtown was going to relocate in, but instead, they built the Foodtown in Madison [coming soon to the blog] and GU went into the old A&P site in Berkely Hts [today the Stop & Shop linked above]."
We can see some photos from a while back on a still-active Foursquare page here. After ACME closed in 2013, Asian supermarket chain New York Marts announced they were taking over the space and even installed a sign on the front, whose labelscar we can still see clearly. Despite this, interior work barely began (or maybe not even at all, depending on the state Kings left the store in) and exterior work amounted to nothing more than a paint job. New York Marts officially pulled out in 2014.
Plans originated in 2014 to redevelop the site with residential buildings, but they were still only in the planning phases by the end of 2020. As far as I know, and as of my last visit last June, there has been exactly zero progress on the site. In fact, it's in serious disrepair. Let's check it out as of November 2020.
To the far right of the building is this covered patio area, which I assume was used for either outdoor seating or cart storage, although it's too isolated from access to the store for seating and too large for cart storage -- so it's also possible it was used by some previous tenant and never really had a purpose for the supermarket.
The store had a long vestibule along the entire front wall with a set of entrances and exits at each end. That's also unusual for Kings, which again makes me think this store was built as something else.
The Boar's Head sign is definitely left over from Kings, as New York Marts stores do not have delis.
We can get a peek inside the vestibule here...
As we can see here, the supermarket is in shambles inside, probably beyond the ability to just remodel and reuse the space. One of the strangest things about this store's state is that it's remained undeveloped for all these years in an extremely affluent community (Berkeley Heights' median household income is over $130,000). I'd think the developers would want to rush this project to maximize the value of the land.
Moisture, probably due to a leaky ceiling, and the resulting mold. Beautiful.
We can't see too much inside, but we can see that there's a lot still intact -- note that there are even still floor tiles down. I don't know exactly what those half-walls are that we see on the right, and whether they are things that NYM was installing or things left over from Kings that NYM was demolishing. Zoom out a bit from that view, and it's not a pretty sight...
I've looked in through the windows of many former supermarkets -- some closed for more than 20 years -- but none of them have had as much of a mold problem as this one does. Must be an awfully leaky ceiling, and maybe the structural renovations needed here were one of the reasons NYM gave up on this space.
We can also peek in the exit a bit...
Looks like the flooring was ripped up on this side of the store, and perhaps some of the shelving was shifted around. We can also see in the above picture some exposed drywall, which presumably would be something NYM was installing.
Looks like that shelving was left over from Kings but being moved around, since I seriously doubt an aisle would've been that narrow.
Here we can just barely catch a glimpse of the aisle markers, sans any category markers on them, and some coolers definitely left from Kings (but as I said, the floor was ripped up here). I assume the green and beige paint on the columns was also left from Kings, since that was their color scheme at the time. Anyway, that wraps up our look at this space, and whether or not its demolition is as imminent as has been suggested for the last seven years, I'm glad I got to photograph it! As I mentioned, in 2013, this store moved into a former Pathmark in Gillette just up the street, which you can tour here. Tomorrow, we move west once again for the next supermarket along the road (which changes its name to Valley Road in Long Hill Township), over on The Market Report!
One minor note - that one paragraph refers to Acme closing in 2013 then later to what was left by Kings.ReplyDelete
The photo just below that (2nd one) shows that red square with the white line - I assume that is a version of what is used here (usually a full white X on red) for buildings that are in bad enough condition that emergency personnel should not enter them at all in case of a fire, so it may be even worse than what you could see from the front.
You're very observant! That signage didn't even register with me. Looks like it's kind of a "danger may exist" (not a "full danger") symbol, since this slide seems to show the same symbols seen here and that you're discussing:Delete
That makes sense - I guess in this area (mostly in the cities themselves) they usually only get to the point of having the full X before anyone bothers to mark them.Delete
I lived in Berkeley Heights from 1965 to 1975. As I recall, the nearby A&P was the one and only food store on Springfield Ave... until Foodtown came to town sometime around 1970. As I recall the building was constructed for Foodtown. Attached to the Foodtown building was an L-shaped strip mall, which was built either before or after the Foodtown building (sorry, I was a young child at the time). Most of that L-shaped strip mall burned down and had to be reconstructed. The fire was a huge event.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your extensive history and memories here!Delete