MOORESTOWN – A proposed hotel and apartment complex at Moorestown Mall has moved closer to reality.
Council members voted unanimously Monday night to approve a redevelopment plan for the Route 38 shopping center.
The multi-stage project is intended to bring a 112,000-square-foot hotel and up to 1,065 homes to the mall’s parking lot.
“We are excited by the progress made in moving toward the next phase of Moorestown Mall’s evolution,” said Heather Crowell, an executive for the mall’s owner, Philadelphia-based PREIT.
The development will allow PREIT to boost revenues by selling land at the 84-acre complex. It also will advance a “densification” effort meant to lessen PREIT’s reliance on traditional malls.
The planned apartments are to include 213 affordable units, helping the township to meet a court-ordered mandate for less-costly housing.
The redevelopment plan was reached last year after mediation between the township, PREIT and Fair Share Housing Center, a Cherry Hill-based advocate for low-income residents.
Mayor Nicole Gillespie on Tuesday said the plan “preserves our immunity to builder’s-remedy lawsuits,” which developers can use to avoid zoning restrictions for projects with affordable homes.
“I think we came to a reasonable compromise with PREIT on the redevelopment plan and, critically, we did it by the court-imposed deadline (of Aug. 26),” she said.
“I’m looking forward to working with PREIT to revitalize the Moorestown Mall property,” she added.
Crowell said PREIT is “still working through timelines” for approvals and construction for each phase of the mall’s redevelopment.
Preliminary plans show a four-story hotel in a parking lot between Lenola Road and a Sears Auto Center, near the rear of the shopping center.
A concept plan also envisions a trio of four-story apartment buildings, with the first to rise in the corner of a parking lot between Nixon Drive and Boscov’s. The initial building would hold 375 units, including 75 affordable homes, and a parking structure.
A second phase calls for a 345-unit apartment building in an area that includes a former Lord + Taylor store, part of a former Macy’s store and a Sears Auto Center, according to the plan.
The final phase would put a similar building in a parking lot between Route 38 and a former Sears store, according to the concept plan.
PREIT has found new tenants for the Sears and Lord + Taylor stores since the concept plan was unveiled last year.
Cooper University Health Care in June paid $10.1 million for the 165,000-square-foot Sears store, which is being converted into medical offices.
Cooper has not said when the out-patient facility will open.
The redevelopment plan notes “the existing portion of the mall identified for Phase 3 may be repurposed for medical office uses at any time.”
PREIT earlier this month said discounter Turn 7 will open in October at the Lord + Taylor site, which most recently held a COVID-19 vaccination mega-site. Turn 7 sells sells overstocked name-brand merchandise from online channels, according to Joseph Coradino, PREIT’s chairman and CEO.
The plan does not address the potential impact of Turn 7’s arrival.
PREIT operates 18 “core” shopping centers, including Cherry Hill Mall and Cumberland Mall in Vineland. It also has interests in Gloucester Premium Outlets and Fashion District Philadelphia.
The firm is pursuing a financial turnaround after being hammered by pandemic restrictions and a harsh environment for brick-and-mortar retailers.
PREIT recently posted a net loss attributable to shareholders of $81 million, or $1.04 per share for the first-half of its current fiscal year.
It had annual deficits of $286.9 million last year, $38.2 million in 2019, and $137.7 million in 2018.
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