Developer unveils $230M plan to upgrade Burlington Center Mall
By Chris Bishop
Burlington Country Times
BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — A long-awaited — if still vague — plan to redevelop the ailing Burlington Center Mall drew rave reviews from state and local officials Thursday evening during a special unveiling inside the complex on Route 541.
“Perseverance,” “vision” and “transformative” were among the words thrown out by officials in describing the $230 million proposal by the mall’s new owner, Moonbeam Capital Investments in Las Vegas.
Dozens of elected officials, tenants and business people showed up to hear more details about the redevelopment of the mall, which has been struggling for several years.
Kristi Howell of the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce said the project would not only be good for Burlington Township but South Jersey as well, since it would provide an economic boost for the region.
Under Moonbeam’s proposal, the mall eventually would encompass 1.5 million square feet of retail space and would expand to adjacent land along Interstate 295.
That land is owned by home-builder Peter Hovnanian of Mount Laurel, who has formed a partnership with Moonbeam and developer Patrick Heller, owner of Diamond Real Estate in Limerick, Pa.
Heller called the redevelopment plan one of “historic proportions,” and praised the longtime tenants who had remained at the mall for their endurance.
“You have been hearing, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming,’ “ he said. “Well, the project is here and you’re here.”
Heller showed a number of illustrations depicting what the redeveloped mall could look like, but he cautioned that it could change.
“It is for illustration purposes only,” he said. “We are not married to this.”
Heller said his company was in talks with many national retailers, but he would not name any tenants that had committed to the Burlington Center, which has been renamed the Marketplace at Burlington.
Heller and other spokesmen said they want to turn the revamped mall into a “destination” that would include a movie theater, restaurants and other retailers.
Mark Remsa, director of economic development and regional planning for Burlington County, lauded the proposal for its partnership between Moonbeam, Hovnanian and Heller and the perseverance involved.
“I think it’s a positive all around,” Remsa said.
Moonbeam principal Steven Maksin also spoke at Thursday’s event.
Maksin, a tax attorney and accountant, said he wanted to subtract things but add value to the Burlington Center.
“The old concept of big boxes is dying out,” said Maksin, whose company owns 12 million square feet of property nationwide. “We are given a chance to experiment. ... We can turn this into an upscale site.”
Maksin and his colleagues said the expanded mall would be an experiment that could succeed and work in other parts of the country with its combination of retailers and other uses.
State Assemblyman Troy Singleton, a Democrat and native of Willingboro, said during brief comments that the plans would be “transformative for the Route 541 corridor and for South Jersey.”
The plans still must be approved by the township, but local officials have shown their support for the project.
Bishop, C. (2014, March 13). Developer unveils $230M plan to upgrade Burlington Center Mall. Burlington Country Times. (March 14, 2014). http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/news/communities/burlington/developer-unveils-m-plan-to-upgrade-burlington-center-mall/article_eeef6db6-b1b3-553e-87af-861970c469f5.html