A Sprouts Farmers Market is planned for Egg Harbor Rd. in Washington Township, and they are set for a Zoning Board hearing on September 11, 2023 at 6pm.
UPDATE: This hearing was moved to October 16th, 2023
“Sprouts” is a unique grocery experience offering an open layout with fresh produce as a core aspect of the store.
They carry the true healthy eating theme throughout all aspects of their full grocery offerings, which include; a meat counter, full deli, seafood counter and a large focus on organic, plant based and gluten free products.
The plans call for the Washington Township location are for a 23,256 square foot building for the Sprouts Farmers Market, plus a second smaller retail building of 6,400 square foot.
The lot is currently undeveloped, and by my calculations is about 5 acres total.
Back in March of this year 42 freeway broke the news of the plans for the sprouts location, and residents have been eagerly awaiting additional details.
The public notice hit the newspapers just this morning but I will not be able to see the full site plan until next week, as today is the last day of Washington Township’s Municipal Building summer hours… and like many towns they are closed on Fridays in the summer.
This project is effectively an extension to the existing Harbor Place shopping center (TD Bank, Rita’s) and it is expected that the two properties will connect.
Additionally there will be a new access point onto Egg Harbor Rd. which will be positioned to be in line with the existing traffic light at Selena Rd.
Currently there is a Sprouts store operating in Marlton NJ, and exactly one week from today a second location opens in Haddon Township NJ on Cuthbert Blvd.
Washington Township would be the third one in South Jersey, and give Sprouts one store in each of the three major suburban counties.
Sprouts Farmers Market – “Township” Gets Their Premium Grocery
That March announcement was actually very soon after Sprouts signed on with the property owner, and at that time the design of the property and buildings had not been started yet… so there was a ton of work to be done ahead of any formal approval meetings, both with the developers architects and then Planning Officials with Washington Township and Gloucester County.
For most projects that I write about we’re typically hearing about them much later in the development cycle, and many times we would be learning about them at the time where we are right now… with the announcement of the zoning or planning board meeting.
What was different with this project is, soon after the signing the landlord of the Harbor Place Shopping Center made the existing tenants aware of the exciting news of the upcoming Sprouts… and with many of the store workers living within the community, they started telling friends.
There are so many ways in which I learned about new projects coming to towns, including directly from readers…. thank you very much! But this one’s a little bit funnier (well at least to me).
I learned about the Sprouts news in March when I was having lunch at a Washington Township pizza shop. A customer came in who seemed friendly with the owner of the pizza shop, and the customer said “hey do you know anything about Sprouts? I hear they’re coming to Washington Township, next to that Rita’s Water Ice center”
I was literally standing 10 feet away in the restaurant when that was said, ha! They had no idea the “42Freeway Guy” was there. Ha!
So with that information I was able to reach out to a couple of different folks including the shopping center owner whom back in March confirmed that Sprouts was coming!
Previously Approved Project – 2007
For several years you may have noticed a large real estate sign in front of the wooded portion of the Egg Harbor property, promoting a new shopping center extension… but with no real signs of activity.
Well, back in 2007 the owner of the property was previously approved to develop a shopping center expansion there… the same property where Sprouts is going today.
If you’re younger you may not remember the economic changes that took place in 2008 with the crash of the housing market, which affected lending and construction.
In 2006 the economy was booming, the housing market was on fire, and commercial projects were also booming. Construction oriented financing then was cheap and easy to acquire.
And then in 2008 the financial aspects around the housing market crashed, leading to broader impacts, and for many years development across the country effectively came to a halt.
Literally the year AFTER that initial approval, the economy crashed… and the Egg Harbor property was not developed, despite being approved in 2007.
So in 2023 for the new Sprouts project, while the property was already deemed suitable for commercial development… absolutely today the plans are different than what they were 16 years ago.
So in some ways this new Zoning Meeting is a refresh of that prior approval to match Sprouts’ development plans of today.
There are a few zoning variances requested.
Two aspects which are in almost every town’s zoning/planning hearing; Signage and buffer space.
Additionally they are asking to develop more parking spaces than are required… which typically it’s the other way around!
Normally I see a project asking to be developed where they’re trying to squeeze it into a property that’s too small and doesn’t have enough parking, Sprouts will actually have about 50% more parking spaces then required,
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sprouts is a large and rapidly growing premium Natural/Organic healthy grocery chain with over 380 locations in the United States.
While there are other healthy grocery options in the United states, Sprouts differentiates itself by also putting an emphasis on “fresh”. They make and prepare many grocery category items in the store, when their competition uses significantly more prepackaged product.
Their in-store deli for example went viral on social media recently for their fresh, made-to-order $5 packed deli sandwich deal. Multiple customer video clips reached over a million views each! It actually increased customer visits and revenue! (GroceryDive.com)
And beyond the deli they strive to offer a full shopping experience where everything is under the umbrella of “healthy”
- Fresh Deli: Sandwiches, convenience meals and more, made in store.
- Full butcher shop, with butchers experienced in answering questions and preparing meat to customer requests.
- Bakery in each store, offering the freshest breads, cookies, cakes, pies and more.
- Fresh Seafood section: Similar to a supermarket experience, not just packaged offsite.
- Organic products: Sprouts is known to have a larger selection of organic products.
- Personal Care: Sprouts offers a wider range of products including vitamins, toiletries and body care.
Honestly I had not been in a Sprouts store until a last year when I drove up to see the Marlton location.
My intent at the time was to write about the Westmont store coming but literally days after my visit I found out that the Washington Township location was coming.. And since no one knew of that story, I used those photos from the Marlton store in my Washington Township story. If that makes sense ha!
So in my visit to the Marlton store I found out to be bright, colorful inviting, and it absolutely was an open space which had less of a claustrophobic feeling that you get from a full size supermarket with its rows and rows of tall shelves
I mean there absolutely are product aisles, but in my quick visit it was clear that they were featuring the fresh produce, prepared goods and that lower height shelving
On one hand it feels a little bit like an ALDI, but Sprouts really puts a lot more effort into making it more pleasing to the eye with nice interior graphics, better store design, and just a broader variety of fresh produce… Which brings in mother natures own color palette
Links and Location
Sprouts Zoning Hearing
September 11, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.
523 Egg Harbor Road
Sewell, NJ 08080