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Giant, Red Robin slated for Exeter Commons

READING EAGLE, January 14, 2008

Target, Lowe’s, Petco, Wachovia Bank and Chick-fil-A are also named as prospective tenants in the center to be built on Perkiomen Avenue.
By Erin Negley
Reading Eagle

At least two businesses are on board to fill Exeter Township’s newest shopping complex – the proposed Exeter Commons along Perkiomen Avenue.

Giant Food Stores plans to relocate its Exeter store to the $100 million shopping center.

And Berks County’s first Red Robin restaurant is expected to open there.

Metro Commercial Real Estate, the agent for the center, also indicated that Target, Lowe’s, Petco, Wachovia Bank and a Chick-fil-A restaurant will join the center.

Officials at those companies and the developers would not confirm that information.

Exeter Commons will be built on 44 acres where Perkiomen Avenue meets the West Shore Bypass, also known as Route 422.

Plans show three anchor stores, three restaurants and 60,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction is to begin in February.

Exeter JV Associates, a partnership of Ironwood Property Group Inc. of West Conshohocken, Montgomery County, and The Goldenberg Group of Blue Bell, Montgomery County, are the developers.

Jeremy B. Fogel, Ironwood president, said he would like to talk about the tenants but can’t because of a confidentiality agreement.

Giant plans to open in the new shopping center next year and close its existing store in the nearby Exeter Promenade Plaza, said Denny Hopkins, a spokesman for Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Cumberland County.

The new store will be larger than the existing one.

“We’ll be able to build the kind of store that we want to build there rather than renovate,” Hopkins said.

The older Exeter Giant opened in 1989. It was remodeled twice and enlarged in 2000.

Red Robin plans to open in fall 2009, said James M. Mitich, vice president of operations for Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, Allentown. The franchise develops Red Robin restaurants throughout Pennsylvania.

“We’ve wanted to be in the Reading-Berks area for a time,” Mitich said. “We just hadn’t found the right development.”

The restaurant will have a full bar and employ 125 workers, he said.

Kevin M. Trapper, vice president of development for The Goldenberg Group, said at the Exeter Township meeting in November that Target wants to open July 26, 2009.

He said the anchors are a home improvement store, a department store and a grocery store.

Target spokeswoman Anna Goeppinger said it’s premature to talk about the company building in Exeter.

Maureen A. Rich, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s, said the company does not comment on sites until it has finalized all real estate matters.

“We have not done that in Exeter Township,” Rich said.

Similarly, Petco releases information about new stores only when final agreements are signed, spokeswoman Rachel McLennan said.

Representatives with Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A did not return several phone calls.

As for Wachovia, Jim Baum, vice president of corporate communication, said the company is looking to grow in the Reading market.

“It really would be premature for us to comment on that specific area at this time, though,” he said.