Developers unveil plans for new Marketplace at Burlington
By Bridget Clerkin
The Times of Trenton
March 13, 2014
BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — Calling it one of the biggest makeovers of its type on the East Coast, developers came to the Burlington Center Mall yesterday to unveil the plans for the project that will soon replace the shopping center, which has struggled over the years.
Spanning 200 acres and including 1.5 million square feet of retail space, the new “Marketplace at Burlington” will include a variety of entities, from restaurants and grocery stores to retail shops and entertainment venues, according to Steven Maksin, CEO of Moonbeam Capital Investments, the Las Vegas-based company that is developing the project.
“We have a chance to really turn this into an upscale establishment,” Maksin said to the large crowd that had gathered for the meeting in front of the mall’s J.C. Penney store. “We will make this a destination area, and once you’re here, you should want for nothing.”
Penney announced earlier this year it was closing the store at Burlington Center Mall in addition to many other underperforming retail outlets. The change will cost the mall in Burlington Township a valuable anchor store, but mall owners have stated they expect Penney’s departure will give them a broader canvas upon which to work their improvements.
Key to that goal was the acquisition of a large plot of land adjacent to the mall, which the company will use to redesign a huge swath of the space. A large thoroughfare road will run through nearly 150 acres of the development, giving customers access to the various stores, and some buildings will be redesigned to make the project more visible from nearby Interstate 295 — and its daily 83,000 motorists — said project developer Pat Heller.
No indication was given of when the renovation and mall expansion would begin or when it would be finished. But the project is expected to create 1,500 full- and part-time jobs, along with thousands of part-time construction jobs, according to data provided by Moonbeam.
But during his speech, Heller reached out to the people already working in the mall — which is dotted with store vacancies — and told them to keep faith that better times would arrive.
“I looked up ‘perseverance’ before I got here, and what I saw next to the word ‘perseverance’ was your picture,” Heller said. “I know all you’ve been hearing is ‘It’s coming. It’s coming.’ Now, it’s here, and it’s going to be better than you imagined.”
Maksin said he hoped that creating a “open-air, part-mall destination area” would help bring shoppers back to the brick and mortar stores and away from the internet.
“Let’s face it, big boxes and old retail concepts are dying out. Change is inevitable, and what’s happened here will happen to other malls in the future,” he said. “Today, you can buy jeans on the internet, but we need to get the shoppers back, and this model has been successful in the past.”
Burlington Township Council President Mike Cantwell said he also hoped that a successful history would repeat itself in Burlington.
“It’s time for a new vision here, and this is a great idea,” he said. “They’ve done this before. This is something they do. And they’ve been successful. I hope they can do that here.”
The mall has struggled over the years as big box development and internet sales have carved away at its sales.
Stores have come and gone, and so have developers with big plans for revitalizing the shopping center, which sits at the intersection of two busy highways, Route 541 and I-295.
Clerkin, B. (2014, March 13), Developers unveil plans for new Marketplace at Burlington, The Times of Trenton (March 14, 2014). http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2014/03/developers_unveil_plans_for_new_marketplace_at_burlington.html