Council earmarks Plaza at Cherry Hill for rehabilitation

Members also honor township third grader for fundraising efforts.

At its most recent public session, Cherry Hill Township council passed legislation intended to resurrect an under-utilized retail center and  recognized an enterprising elementary-school student who raised money for a national organization dedicated to minority rights. 

During that Aug. 10 virtual meeting, council gave unanimous consent to passing a pair of resolutions regarding the Plaza at Cherry Hill, located on Route 38 adjacent to the Cherry Hill Mall.  

“The (first) resolution designates the property as an area in need of rehabilitation, pursuant to the planning board’s findings and recommendations which we have received at council,” said Council President David Fleisher.

“It is exciting, in this time of contracting economics, to have the prospect of positive growth.” 

The Plaza, opened in 1970, sits on a parcel of land approximately 43 acres;  tenants include Red Lobster and ALDI supermarket. According to documents submitted to the planning board relating to the request for designating the complex in need of rehabilitation, the shopping center’s high rate of vacancy can be directly attributed to its deterioration over the course of 50 years. 

The second resolution designated the owner of the property, UE2100 Rt. 38 LLC Urban Edge, as the developer, subject to the negotiation and execution of a satisfactory agreement between that entity and the township. 

“This designation will allow the planning board to formulate a rehabilitation plan that encourages high-quality development on that site,”noted Mayor Susan Shin Angulo. “As we all know, brick-and-mortar retail was struggling even prior to COVID-19. And here in Cherry Hill, we must be proactive to ensure that our retail centers remain vital and productive.”

“We are in the midst of serious societal change, and we need to keep Cherry Hill’s economy strong for years to come,” she added. “By taking this step tonight, we are continuing to offset property taxes for our residents, bringing additional revenue to our schools and keeping our town vibrant and thriving. 

“I’m excited to see this distressed shopping center reinvented for the benefit for our community at large.”

Council also issued a proclamation in honor of 9-year-old township resident and Woodcrest Elementary School student Olivia Ghee, who was recognized for raising funds to address racism through a children’s art show. 

“Through the Eyes of Children: What does Black Lives Matter Mean To You?” netted nearly $2,000 that went to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. 

Ghee came up with the idea when her mother suggested she channel her feelings on racism in a more age-appropriate manner, instead of actually attending BLM protests in the township and surrounding areas earlier this summer. 

“I thank everybody who helped me create the art show, because it helped raise money to protect and help people, and I feel really good about that,” Ghee said. 

As a result, Angulo declared Aug. 11 to be Olivia Ghee Day in the township. 

In other news

  • Christian Simms, from Boy Scout Troop 170, led the meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. 
  • Council passed legislation authorizing the use of a Sourcewell cooperative pricing contract for the purchase and installation of equipment for Willowdale Park playground, which is 25 years old and in need of replacement.