Demolition began Tuesday on the former Grants and Acme shopping center, in Clementon, a move designed to make way for the long-awaited redevelopment of the 30-acre site, which is to include a mix of townhomes and commercial space, which could include office, retail and restaurant tenants.
The dilapidated shopping center has been vacant for more than 20 years. Leewood Real Estate Group New Jersey, of Trenton, has been working collaboratively with the borough of Clementon and the Camden County Improvement Authority to develop a plan for the White Horse Pike property. It will consist of 205 townhouses, with two- and three-bedroom units, some with garages and backyards, and all designed for high energy efficiency. There will be 40,000 square feet of commercial and office space, and the development will feature walking paths that connect to nearby Rowand Pond and the Camden County Greenway.
“We think it will have a dramatic, positive impact on the regeneration of that particular area of the White Horse Pike and for the borough of Clementon,” said Leewood CEO Michael Fink.
Construction of the first phase, which will include 50 housing units and possibly some of the commercial property, should begin in 2012, with the entire project expected to take 3 to 6 years.
“The county is committed to assisting municipalities to identify redevelopment projects that will revitalize a community and generate new ratables,” said freeholder director and economic development liaison Louis Cappelli Jr. “The demolition of the 200,000-square-foot, dilapidated structure that has sat vacant for decades will provide Clementon with the potential to generate over $1 million in new revenue.”
Agreements between the county and Leewood are being finalized. Unlike other proposals received by the county, Leewood will try to secure grants for market-rate funding from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for the first phase of the housing project. This will enable Leewood to offer competitive sales prices, leading to faster sales of the units.
Leewood executives said the company has experience in redeveloping urban areas, having designed projects in Trenton and New Brunswick over the past 15 years. The market-rate townhouses in Clementon will be designed for first-time buyers. Prices have not been definitively set, but Fink said the three-bedroom units could sell for about $170,000.