P.J. Whelihan’s CEO pulls plug on project at former Harrison’s property

Bob Platzer made the decision to abandon renovation after Historic Preservation Commission meeting

Bob Platzer and architect Rich Vella presented this plan Wednesday, Aug. 15, to the Haddonfield Historic Preservation Commission. Platzer later said he would not being doing any extensive renovations to the former Harrison’s site at 131 Kings Highway East.

The owner of the former Harrison’s property has abandoned a plan to significantly renovate the structure on Kings Highway.

Bob Platzer, who bought the property last year, said he is going to keep the building ‘as is’ after receiving negative feedback from the Haddonfield Historic Preservation Commission. He presented a revised design for the property at 131 Kings Highway East at the commission’s Aug. 15 meeting.

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“I’ll see what my next step is,” said Platzer, who serves as president and CEO of P.J.W. Restaurant Group. “I’ll probably try to rent it or sell it.”

Platzer and architect Rich Villa appeared frustrated following the presentation. During the meeting, members of the commission called the former Harrison’s building significant to the borough’s downtown.

Commission Member Cynthia Byers said she would not support a plan that altered the building’s façade in any way.

“It doesn’t fit into the streetscape,” she added after reviewing Platzer’s design.

Paul Schmeck, another member of the commission, called the property a “quintessential Haddonfield building.”

“Under no circumstances should this brick façade be significantly altered,” he said.

Platzer and Villa argued that the building would have fit in with the rest of the downtown, pointing to other properties that have undergone significant renovations. They also questioned the historic nature of the building, which was built in 1955.

Harrison’s shop, which was formerly known as Farrow’s, closed last year, Platzer said.

Property records indicate the building was sold in September 2017 for $1.25 million to 131 Kings High LLC, a company controlled by Platzer.

Platzer told the commission that he was pulling the plug on the project, so the commission did not may any formal recommendation to the borough’s Planning Board regarding the property.

After the discussion with the commission, Platzer said he felt the property would have been an improvement for Kings Highway.

“But they didn’t feel that way,” he added, referring to the members of the historic preservation commission.

Villa said the idea was that Platzer would live on the property, which would also include retail space facing Kings Highway.

Platzer said he “gutted” the building in the anticipation that it would get a major facelift. The property needed to be redone anyway, he added, with or without the redesign.

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