The new owners of the Princeton Shopping Center have said they will continue to maintain the community feel that has been a hallmark of the successful center for many years.
But with the shopping center sale scheduled to go through tomorrow, all of the current staff members who have been a part of that success have been notified that they are being terminated, including long-time general manager Chris Hanington.
“We’ve been compadres for 25 years. We’ve had a great relationship,” Jordan’s Cards and Gifts owner Lewis Wildman said of Hanington. “Whenever something was going on you could always run it by Chris. She was also an active part of the local community scene.”
Hanington, along with staff members Carlos Delcid, Jose Quevedo, Jose Delicid and Julie Drobits, completed their last day of work at the shopping center today. Hanington and Carlos Delcid worked at the shopping center for 25 years.
Some shopping centers owned by large companies don’t have management on site on a daily basis, and merchants at the shopping center said they have not been told yet whether an on-site manager will replace Hanington and her staff.
“The shopping center has been run like a local venture all these years,” Wildman said. “People say the new company is nice, but then one has to ask why are they getting rid of all the staff the first day. They could have at least taken more time to make the transition.”
Edens, a South Carolina based real estate company that runs about 140 shopping centers along the East Coast, is set to purchase the center from the New York company George Comfort & Sons for an undisclosed sum tomorrow. A representative from Edens could not be reached for comment on the staff terminations.
Hanington and her employees were notified at the end of last week that this would be their last week of work. In an email sent to merchants Wednesday that was obtained by Planet Princeton, Hanington notified the shopping center tenants of the departures.
“I am writing to say goodbye. I loved every blessed moment I have spent here,” she wrote. “I was a newlywed when I started; now I am a single mom with three kids, two of whom are in college.”
“I love and truly admire every single one of you,” she wrote to the merchants. “In my mind you are on the front line, and I have always thought of myself as support back at camp. It has been an honor serving you.”
Hanington has been very active supporting local merchants and through Hometown Princeton and the Princeton Merchant Association.
“It’s a big loss for the shopping center,” one merchant said. “The decision is very short-sighted.”
Known for her enthusiasm and spirit, Hanington often wore costumes to shopping center and community special events. Last year at the annual Princeton Waiters Race in honor of Bastille Day, she showed up at Palmer Square dressed as the Statue of Liberty, wearing green face paint despite the 100 degree weather.