Camden County towns are gearing up for what the next 12 months might have in store for residents and the local community.
For Voorhees Township, one long-discussed issue will continue to be the redevelopment of the Voorhees Town Center, where it is hoped renovations will eventually allow residents in and out of the township to once again visit the once-prominent Echelon Mall.
The Sun has previously reported on Brandywine Acquisitions & Development’s termination of a purchase and sale agreement for the town center, citing the pandemic and the company’s inability to reach “certain benchmarks” as reasons it cannot acquire the property.
Brandywine was in negotiations to acquire the property from the town center’s current owner, Namdar Realty Group.
The township committee is once again trying to find a potential redeveloper for the existing mall. But Mayor Michael Mignogna does not expect much progress on that until a return to traditional business, however slow, follows COVID.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on all business development, including the Voorhees Town Center,” he said. “We have continued to offer our assistance to the existing owner of the town center in finding a redeveloper and have remained in communication with the parties that were interested before the pandemic.
“But I do not anticipate much progress until business normalcy returns.”
The committee previously passed the Voorhees Town Center Redevelopment Plan, which Mignogna said applies to all potential redevelopers, and includes a financial agreement and tax abatement program for the construction of 180 townhomes. It also requires redevelopment of 100,000 square feet of the town center within five years of the property’s acquisition.
Elsewhere in the township, Mignogna looks forward to continued progress at the Virtua Voorhees campus, as well as new and upgraded Wawa locations around town.
“Virtua is expanding their medical campus in Voorhees with the addition of a birthing center and the proton therapy facility,” Mignogna noted. “Additionally, a new Wawa was approved to replace the existing store at the corner of Burnt Mill Road and White Horse Road.”
According to the mayor, there are developers with approvals for new home construction around the township who have been unable to get started due to the pandemic; He is hopeful such projects will start sometime during 2021.
As a vaccine rolls out and, potentially, South Jersey is able to return to some semblance of normal life, Mignogna is hopeful the township can once again host signature events, if permitted by state health guidelines.
“We hope to resume as many community events as possible in 2021, but must follow the state’s health guidelines as they evolve,” he advised. “We would love to resume and will be prepared to resume such events as our summer concert series, National Night Out, International Day, car show, fall festival/Halloween in the park, Wall of Honor Ceremony and holiday tree lighting and Santa visits.
“Our community misses these events.”