Drug Fair May Get Split in Half
Two different businesses have expressed interested in renting the site, but not at its full size.
Neil Richards, the real estate agent leasing the property, confirmed that two separate businesses are interested in leasing portions of the storefront. "We're in the process of subdividing the Drug Fair space," Richards said.
No leases have been signed, and Richards said until they are he would not comment on what kind of businesses are interested in filling the space. The leases could be signed as early as the first week of August.
Chatham Township officials have searched for a business to fill the empty storefront for more than two years. Even in February, when the township committee first discussed possibly creating a third consumption liquor license in the town, using the license as an incentive to fill the space was a key point in the discussion.
"People are looking at the economic situation and realizing that Madison and Chatham and Summit are not hurting as much as [they] were," Committee Member Bailey Brower, Jr. said.
Township Clerk Greg LaConte said the Drug Fair space is located in the B-1 business center district zone. Permitted uses in the B-1 district are:
- retail stores and shops
- cleaning and tailoring shops, provided there is no dry cleaning on the premises
- restaurants where patrons are served food tables and counters, but food is not ordered or delivered outdoors
- banks and financial institutions
- offices for professional, business and executive purposes
If the businesses that want to rent the space wish to apply for a change of use, they must go before the township's Planning Board. Otherwise, LaConte said, "usually whenever a new store comes in they have to go before the Zoning Board."
Brower said he was "cautiously optimistic" the space will soon be filled. "The main thing is, we're getting some movement down there," he said.
In February, Chatham Patch ran a poll asking readers to vote on what kind of business they would like to see in the space. Nearly two-thirds of those who responded—71 votes out of 110—said they would prefer to see a restaurant such as Cracker Barrel or a sports bar in town.
Others suggested an ice rink, a teen center or a Trader Joe's.