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Franklin OKs auto parts store

FRANKLIN — Construction is expected to begin in March on a new Advance Auto Parts store, taking the place of two vacant houses and a vacant lot at the intersection of Route 23 and Mabie Street.

John Kurlander, commercial sales director for Fairclough Realtors and Property Management, said the real estate closing was recently concluded and borough officials have approved the necessary zoning changes for the three lots on the southeast corner of the intersection.

One lot is at 24 Mabie St. and the other two include the vacant lot at the corner and an old house facing Route 23.

Kurlander said the construction schedule is 200 days which means the new store, at this point, would be open before 2018.

The new building will be 6,889 square feet. Advanced said in planning documents that its expected business would be about 60 percent “wholesale,” and 40 percent retail customers.

“The majority of the business is supplying garages and car dealers with parts,” said Kurlander. “Those get delivered by the company.”

He noted that retail customers to auto-parts stores spend just a few minutes in the store since they most often know what they need before the walk in. Some customers, however, do seek advice from the store’s technicians.

Work on assembling the necessary lots — which are being consolidated into one deeded parcel — began in the first quarter of 2015, said the sales director, as Advance began looking for a suitable location for its new store.

“They wanted a (signal) controlled intersection from where they could go in different directions,” he explained.

The Mabie-Route 23 intersection included mixed zones for residential and commercial, he said, which required working with the borough’s professionals and elected officials to go through the re-zoning.

In the end, the work paid off with unanimous approvals from the Planning Board and Borough Council.

The owner of the combined properties is PAG Investments, a boutique investment and development firm located in northeastern New Jersey.

The properties along Route 23 were formerly owned by Pamela Giordano, while the property at 24 Mabie St., was last owned by a limited liability company, which purchased the property through a foreclosure proceeding.

Kurlander said that Franklin is facing zoning challenges because, as in this case, many of the lots along the commercial corridor are shallow, which don’t meet the needs of modern development.

He said the local government is working itself through those challenges and expects to see further commercial and mixed use developments in the future.

Bruce A. Scruton can also be contacted on Twitter: @brucescrutonNJH or by phone: 973-383-1224

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