Timing is everything

Two years ago the Camden County Improvement Authority swung the bat of Eminent Domain, knowing they would hit a home run. 100 merchants this past January were eased out of business as part of that county deal on the Pennsauken Mart. The homer didn’t happen, the ball curved and went foul, and an expensive vacant lot sits as a result.

The planned developement had been dubbed Pennsauken Crossroads. Home prices were soaring, and a developer took the bait, but the Authority missed their chance to set the hook. The envisioned grouping of 700 homes and shops could be in limbo at the moment. The deadline for the deal was this past Wednesday. Talks will continue, thanks to a 30 day extension, but that seems to be a last ditch manuever. Beazer Homes, the developer in question, is of course a ‘for profit’ business, and what looked good 2 years ago, looks a little murky now.

Home sales are down, prices are off, and that chunk of real estate may no longer justify $350,000 townhomes. The former Garden State Race Track site is building a slew of those on its own. Similar plans are on the board for Cherry Hill Mall. And Moorestown Mall. And Echelon Mall.

The Pennsauken project is becoming a money pit of sorts. The Improvement Authority has already spent $25.7 million on the parcel, with another $2 million in interest payments looming in the future. Tack onto that, demolition costs. The deal with Beazer, who’s proposed purchase price, by the way, is only $20 million, calls for the land to be cleared, buildable, and free of all environmental liabilities, according to New Jersey’s Courier Post newspaper, and those things don’t happen cheaply. Recent calls from the newspaper to the offices of the developer have also suddenly begun to go unanswered, which means the deal could be going… going… gone.

Reference: Courier Post

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Reprinted from Exit 4

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