Rob's Commentary:

Posted September 7, 2005 (user submitted August 8, 2005)

Echelon Mall is the second largest mall in Southern NJ. It's also the second largest mall in Camden County itself, following the successful Cherry Hill Mall. Opening at a former airport named Echelon, the mall was named Echelon. Inside Voorhees township, it was part of a Rouse Company developed community.

There are assisted living apartments, residential apartments and condos, some homes and offices surrounding the mall. The Camden County library and YMCA are also located around the mall.

The fully 2-level mall's heydey was probably when it was fully occupied (or atleast over 90%) when Strawbridge&Clothier, JCPenney, Sterns, Woolworths, Echelon Cinema, and Exhilarama were all tenants. I don't know if Echelon ever surpassed Cherry Hill Mall, but it was definitely superior to Deptford and Moorestown for most of its life. Until 2000-ish when Sears and later JCPenney pulled out of the mall.

JCPenney closed two stores, one being in Audubon's Blackhorse Shopping Center, followed by the Echelon Penney's, and basically replaced them with a Deptford mall location, though the Deptford Penney's was open for awhile before the Echelon one closed. JCPenney also pulled out of Center City's Gallery II, pulling out of two PATCO convenient sites.

But to be exact, Sears built into Echelon in the late 90's, and left the mall within a couple years, leaving a mint new building in the mall's parking lot. The mall didn't have the critical mass for 4 mid-range department stores: Strawbridge, Boscov, JCPenney and Sears, without any upscale, discounter, or different type of retail.

The JCPenney likely suffered by being close to a dead Sears, and let's not forget that Rouse Co. left the mall unchanged with a very dated look by not upgrading it, especially by the JCPenney end.

The mall's main problem isn't local demographics. Voorhees township, and eastern Cherry Hill are both desireable. Every Voorhees strip plaza is doing well - ACME, Genuardi's, Target, BJ's and Kohl's have joined right in, along with that the upscale Ritz 16 theater in Voorhees. But, the mall area still hasn't acheived success. The mall isn't quite a destination center, as its located off county roads, not interstate roads, and Cherry Hill is the destination mall.

Meanwhile, an upscale lifestyle center and lot of retail activity has developed in Marlton (Evesham) NJ off Route 73. This likely has put a dent in getting tenants to PREIT's co-owned malls of Cherry Hill, Moorestown and Echelon.

Moorestown isn't the upscale center it was trying to be with Lord&Taylor, but has become the convenience or alternate mall to Cherry Hill. Echelon isn't the convenience mall as much, as it has lost lot of essential mall stores, like JCPenney and GAP.

The JCPenney and Sears buildings are still empty, along with an abandoned movie theater. There is also lot of vacancies throughout the mall. But there are staple tenants like Boscov, Strawbridge(soon macy's), a decent food court, Express, Victoria Secret, Bath&Body Works, Joyce Leslie, Foot Locker, Hot Topic, Suncoast, Pac Sun, Sunglass Hut, Aeropostale, Bombay Co., NY&Co., Gap Kids, Childrens Place, Payless, Shoe Dept., LensCrafters, Borders Express to name a few.

A freestanding Wal-Mart store is planned for the Echelon mall area. Part of the mall and JCPenney will be demolished, and some tenants will occupy the Sears buiding. Will it help the mall? Probably not. But, it will bring some sales tax revenue back. They might as well tear down the entire mall inside, leaving Boscov and Strawbridge (Macy), and make the mall a big box center or square, if that is the thinking.

PREIT Announces Revised Plans for Echelon Mall

09/14/2005 07:55 - Company Release

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 14, 2005--Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (NYSE:PEI) today announced revised redevelopment plans for the Echelon Mall in Voorhees, New Jersey, and will rename the property Voorhees Town Center. Under the proposed plan the property will incorporate a portion of the existing mall, including Boscov's and Strawbridge's department stores, as well as approximately 200,000 square feet of new lifestyle retail space and approximately 450 new luxury mid-rise condominium and rental apartment units. The new site plan incorporates a wide, landscaped boulevard with ample parking that will provide direct access to shops and restaurants.

Joseph Coradino, President of PREIT Services, LLC said, "We are very excited about the new plans for Voorhees Town Center, which will serve as the shopping, entertainment and residential center for this vibrant, well-established community. The revised plan includes needed service and convenience retail stores and luxury condominium and rental apartments which have seen strong demand in this growing market."

The new plans require various approvals. Previous plans to add Wal-Mart to this center have been withdrawn. Further details about Voorhees Town Center, including tenancy, development details and costs, will be announced in the near future.


Echelon Mall official corporate web site

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