The redeveloper would then help restore the Harvest House building, with improvements such as a new roof, new shutters and new paint.
Evesham Township Council has approved redeveloper Marlton MJ Associates, LLC for a proposed complex of 51 new apartments along Main Street at the property that encompasses the historic structure commonly known as the Harvest House.
History buffs can rest easy, however, as plans for the project include keeping the historic portion of the Harvest House, which dates back to the mid-1800s, by having the redeveloper move the building onto a new foundation about 120 feet closer to Main Street’s sidewalk and construct the new apartments behind the historic structure.
In the process, the redeveloper would then help restore the building, with improvements such as a new roof, new shutters and new paint.
The township could then have the option to use the bottom floor of the building for a public use, and the top floor could become two additional apartments.
With the Harvest House located within the township’s redevelopment zone, council took steps to save the building in July, when council amended its redevelopment plan to request that potential redevelopers of the site move the building closer to Main Street to redevelop the area.
As stated in that amended redevelopment plan, the township views the Marlton Village/Main Street area as a focal point in the township’s 2020 Vision Plan, with an overall goal to create “a more vibrant destination with civic gathering places and an inviting mix of shops, restaurants and services along a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.”
The Harvest House, named for Harvest House Mansion Fine Furniture store that occupied the building for nearly five decades since the 1970s, was built in 1842 as the retirement home of prominent area merchant Isaac Stokes.
The house eventually became known as the Stokes-Evans House, when in following years other prominent Quaker citizens of Marlton also lived there, such as former state Assemblyman Ezra Evans.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Although MJ Associates will still follow the standard approval process by submitting site plans for the new apartments to the planning board for review and final approval at a future public meeting, township officials had asked the redeveloper to come before council at this week’s meeting with concept plans of the site.
MJ Associates and redeveloper Bob Meyer are familiar with the area, as the group is responsible for the 24-apartment complex recently constructed next to the Harvest House on the corner of Main Street and Copper Avenue.
According to Meyer, 17 of those units are already occupied, and his group is in discussions with three different tenants for commercial space in the complex.
The complex replaced what township officials commonly referred to as “the old bank building” — a bank that sat unused for at least a decade before construction of the 24 apartments began in June 2016.
Should the new 51-unit complex become a reality, the two neighboring complexes would essentially combine by sharing parking and easements.
Councilmember Ken D’Andrea was the only member of council to vote against appointing MJ Associates as redeveloper for the site, citing traffic concerns of 51 additional apartments on Main Street, combined with other recent redevelopment nearby along Main Street, South Maple Avenue and the former Tri-Towne Plaza.
“When I look at this particular site, my fear is the intensity,” D’Andrea said.