During the next two or three months, Burlington Township officials are due to obtain civil engineering and architectural drawings of the view of the Marketplace at Burlington, formerly known as Burlington Center Mall, will look like.
This comes along with a traffic count projection.
The owners of the mall, Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC, Las Vegas, are hoping to break ground with the conversion of the mall during mid-spring next year.
If all goes to plan, the $230m conversion will include landscaped green areas with fountains and benches which will combine a traditional mall with an open-air town center. The full project is expected to take around two to three years and will be completed in stages. The mall will not be closed during this period.
Letters of intent are being negotiated with 16 new tenants and seven restaurants to join the new mall. A lot of interest has been garnered fr om non-traditional enclosed-mall tenants.
Site work on the outer areas for the restaurants could commence in late summer. The hybrid mall is due to feature an entertainment-restaurant venue and details will be available over the next few months.
The intention is to recreate the venue into a family destination, where visitors can shop, have dinner with their family and enjoy the fun activities that are available.
Moonbeam Capital Investments has seen the potential in the mall, as it is well-located and offers good demographics and strong household income levels. The company is a private equity fund, which carries no debt, and is in the business of pumping funds into failing malls and sitting back to gain a solid return on investment.
Its recent acquisitions include Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge; Shoppingtown Mall, Syracuse, NY; Century III Mall, Pittsburgh and Gwinnett Place Mall, Duluth, Ga. It also owns 14 strip centers. It has obtained the rights to acquire the area wh ere the former JCPenney store at Burlington mall was situated. The anchor was forced to close during the early part of May due to low sales. This acquisition allows them to expand their proposed development.
Those involved in the project include Moonbeam, along with JS Hovnanian & Sons, Mount Laurel, and Diamond Real Estate Investments LLC, Limerick, Montgomery County.
The mall will reach 1.2m square feet. One phase will be the exploration of non-retail usage for the site, in a bid to create jobs in the area. Another phase may incorporate wetland to increase the environmental friendliness of the site. The company has 150 acres, plus 50 acres of ‘green space’ at hand.
The mall currently has a vacancy rate of 57%. There is a single anchor, Sears, as Macy’s and JCPenney have had to close. The advantages of the mall are its location and demographics. The company purchased the mall during 2012 for $4.4m. This low price was mainly due to the lack of tenants and shoppers. Its assessed value was $29.3m during 1991 and $13.5m last year.
In the US, there were 1100 malls before the 2008 recession. In excess of 24 enclosed malls have closed since 2010, and around 60 are on the brink of closure.
However, 14 retailers, including T-Mobile and Kay Jewelers have remained at Burlington to go through the revitalization project with it.