Voorhees Planning Board recommends office building at Main Street complex be declared in need of redevelopment
At least part of the nearly 30-year-old, multi-million dollar Main Street Complex nestled between Centennial Boulevard and Kresson Road is recommended for redevelopment, the Voorhees Township Planning Board said.
The board made that recommendation at its June 22 meeting where it reviewed a redevelopment study of the sprawling complex. The study was originally commissioned by Township Committee in December at the request of Brandywine Realty Trust, the primary property owner at the complex.
Specifically, the only building the planning board recommended to be declared in need of redevelopment was the completely vacant Plaza 1000 office building structure.
No residential housing, such as the condos on the upper floors of the Promenade or Piazza structures, or the nearby Terrace Grand housing development, was determined to be in need of redevelopment.
The study also did not include any analysis of The Mansion at Main Street banquet hall and Congregation Beth El synagogue.
Planner James Clarkin was tasked with conducting the study on behalf of the planning board through on-site inspections at the complex and analysis of current land uses, permitted uses, current occupancy of structures and the physical condition of the buildings onsite.
Through that analysis, Clarkin determined the Plaza 1000 building was the only structure that met enough of the criteria as outlined by state law to be declared in need of redevelopment.
The Plaza 1000 building stands six stories tall, with 170,000 square feet of area dedicated to office space. However, at this time, that building is 100 percent vacant, which was a major factor in Clarkin and the board’s recommendation on the structure.
“Large office spaces, such as this building, are substandard and obsolete in the current office market,” Clarkin said. “This is due to technology and the idea of a 9-to-5 work day disappearing, different hours, the idea of a large, centralized location is becoming not needed as much. More companies are really going toward urban spaces if they’re going to have a centralized location.”
Clarkin also said Plaza 1000’s internal structure is obsolete to meet modern-day, marketable office standards, and would most likely have to be demolished entirely if redevelopment of any kind were to move forward.
According to Clarkin, while the building has been without tenants for some time, there was “not much” evidence of dilapidation — only a few awnings coming apart and some debris in certain offices.
Clarkin said it was obsolescence and discontinuance of use that classifies the building as in need of redevelopment more than anything else.
Clarkin also suggested some parking areas at the complex be included for redevelopment as well, just to make redevelopment more attractive if the process were to move forward.
Upon the conclusion of Clarkin’s presentation, the planning board listened to input from members of the public, many of whom sought to clarify that no residential units were going to be affected by the process as time.
With the board and its solicitor addressing residents’ concerns, the board ultimately agreed with Clarkin’s report.
With a redevelopment recommendation from the planning board, solicitor Stuart Platt said the recommendation and findings would now go back before Voorhees Township Committee for a final vote on the complex’s redevelopment status.
According to Platt, areas determined to be in need of redevelopment allow governing municipal bodies more freedom in how the uses for those areas are zoned, but at this time it was premature to say what, if anything, might someday be built.
Platt said this was only the beginning of a very long process, and if the Voorhees Township Committee does eventually agree with the board’s findings, the owners of any properties who wished to move forward with actual redevelopment would still need to appear before the planning board and township committee many more times.
Platt also said if any other parts of the complex were looked at for redevelopment at a future time, the process for those properties would have to start from the beginning with another study and analysis by the township.