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Posted on Mon, Oct. 18, 2004
In a jam over master plan
The township is taking heat from critics who contend a zoning update is overdue and fear lawsuits. It says its timetable is fine.
By Edward Colimore
Inquirer Staff Writer
An updated master plan for Voorhees regulating development across the township should be completed by the end of the year, with new zoning ordinances in the spring, officials said.
But some community leaders and legal experts say the update should have been completed by late September to abide by a state law requiring the reexamination every six years.
And they say the delay makes the township vulnerable to developers who could start projects conflicting with the community's interests - and launch costly legal challenges.
Lori Volpe, president of the Voorhees Environmental and Recreational Alliance, and lawyer Thomas T. Booth Jr., a Republican candidate for the Township Committee, have called on municipal officials to complete the process before developers take advantage.
"Our zoning ordinances could be challenged," said Volpe, who was a member of the Route 73 Corridor Review Team, which submitted land-use recommendations in June 2003. "Everything is in jeopardy until a master plan is filed."
Booth said the township "could be subject to a slew of litigation from developers who may seek to exploit the now-invalid Voorhees zoning laws."
The township maintains that the plan is still in effect, and that Booth, Volpe and others who insist otherwise are wrong.
The law says that "the governing body shall, at least every six years, provide for a general reexamination of its master plan and development regulations by the planning board."
It also says that "the absence of the adoption by the planning board of a reexamination report... shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the municipal development regulations are no longer reasonable."
The master plan was last updated Sept. 23, 1998, and received a unanimous vote of the planning board on Oct. 7, 1998. Booth, Volpe and other experts say that means the reexamination deadline has passed.
But Voorhees solicitor Stuart Platt said the six-year clock did not start running until zoning ordinances based on the updated plan had been passed.
He said Voorhees had passed ordinances from the 1998 master plan in September 1999 and thus was still within the six-year period. He said the review process began in January. "I believe the concerns are politically motivated and the timing is very curious," he said.
In the meantime, the 1998 master plan remains in effect, said Mayor Harry Platt, no relation to the solicitor.
Democratic Committeeman Dean T. Mazurek said, "Suits are brought against a township when
there is an egregious disregard for the six-year requirement and no plan being prepared. That's not the case here."
William J. Kearns, general counsel for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, a voluntary association of the state's 566 municipalities, said Voorhees' argument was rational.
"Would it be better," he asked, for the updated plan to have been completed "before September? Of course it would. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not."
Towns are sued all the time, said Kearns, who represents the planning and zoning boards in several communities, including Bordentown, Mount Holly and Maple Shade. If taken to court when a master plan has not been updated, he said, "you lose the presumption of validity, but you can still come in and say the plan is reasonable."
George Botcheos, solicitor for Waterford, Berlin Borough, Clementon and Laurel Springs, said the six-year period began when the planning board adopted an updated master plan - not when new zoning ordinances were passed.
"If a developer sues, it's the town's burden to establish sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption," he said. "Developers will say it's more reasonable to grant a [zoning] variance than not to grant it."
Volpe and Booth said the delay could pose problems in Voorhees, especially along the busy Route 73 corridor. One green, 84-acre tract, broken up by a handful of houses in the Kresson section, is already at the center of a dispute that could deeply affect the township.
Virtua Health has begun buying parcels there, hoping to build a hospital that would consolidate some services offered at its hospitals in Voorhees, Marlton and Berlin. The township also has received an application for a hotel and restaurant in the area, and Lowe's is considering locating a home-improvement store in the corridor.
"I want what's good for the township," Volpe said. "With all the potential for development coming in, what are they waiting for? We've known for six years that the master plan needs to be reviewed."
Township officials said the new master plan would call for more commercial development to increase tax revenue and would limit new housing to reduce the impact on the school system.
It also will call for protection of environmentally sensitive areas, simplify the zoning code, and seek traffic-impact fees from developers to help pay for road and traffic-signal improvements, the officials said.
Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or email@example.com.
Virtua to build new hospital
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Construction to begin next year on 84-acre campus in Voorhees
By BILL DUHART
Virtua Health, a dominant supplier of health services in South Jersey, plans to build a new hospital in Voorhees to replace an existing facility and curtail services in two of three other hospitals it operates, company officials announced Wednesday.
With an eye toward building "the hospital of the future," the company proposes to create regional medical centers in Voorhees and Mount Holly and to discontinue full-service hospitals in Marlton and Berlin Borough.
The entire project could take more than a decade.
The new Voorhees hospital will be built along 84 acres on Route 73 near Dutchtown Road to replace the existing 50-acre campus on Evesham Road.
Construction is expected to begin next year with a completion date in 2008. Plans for the existing facility have not been determined.
The future of hospitals in Marlton and Berlin have not been determined but Virtua officials said they could continue to operate in a capacity other than full-service hospitals.
The conversion could take up to 10 years, officials said.
The plans were rolled out as part of a strategic alliance with GE Healthcare, a division of the General Electric Corp.
The alliance is billed as an opportunity to marry Virtua's comprehensive services with GE's leading imaging, diagnostic and surgical equipment.
"We're looking at changing the face of health care," Richard P. Miller, president and CEO of Virtua said Wednesday during an interview at the Courier-Post. "We're going to bring things to the local community that maybe years ago they could only get from a different type of institution around the country."
Virtua, GE envision facility that elevates level of care
Thursday, February 19, 2004
By BILL DUHART
The idea is to build the hospital of tomorrow today.
Officials from South Jersey's Virtua Health hospital system and General Electric Corp. said Wednesday that's why they've formed a strategic alliance.
"It will bring a level of care that's far superior to anything we've been exposed to in the past," said Dr. John Tedeschi chief of staff and pediatrics at Virtua hospitals in Voorhees, Berlin and Marlton.
"Some ideas of what (GE) can do is absolutely amazing. It's Star Wars technology, getting down to cellular levels to analyze our patients."
Virtua's President and CEO Richard P. Miller and Anthony Ecock, an executive with GE Healthcare, a $10 billion division of the $132 billion GE, said Wednesday the alliance does not currently include any financial commitments. The agreement, they said, is a blueprint for cooperation. It establishes a relationship between Virtua and GE that will create reciprocal learning labs for both organizations.
"What we saw in Virtua was a leading-edge management team with very ambitious goals and vision of the future we can participate in," said Ecock.
That future will include a hospital Miller said he wants to "build from the ground up." The new facility will be built on Route 73 at Dutchtown Road in Voorhees and will replace an existing facility in the township. Construction is expected to begin next year with a completion date in 2008.
The hospital could be a showplace for GE products and management philosophies that Virtua has embraced.
Plans also include curtailing services in hospitals Virtua operates in Marlton and Berlin Borough in anticipation of creating regional medical centers in Voorhees and Mount Holly. --Type Title Here--Read all about it (2004)
The impact on the region is still unclear.
Miller and Ecock promised to create world-class medical services that will revolutionize health care and attract students and teachers in medical research and services and worldwide recognition.
But Virtua will pack up an existing 50-acre campus in Voorhees to move crosstown to the new hospital. The company is a nonprofit and does not pay taxes, but does have a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the township to help pay for municipal services.
Lack of sewer lines have hindered development on the township's Route 73 corridor. Township officials have said any companies developing the corridor would have to help pay for sewer lines. Some township residents complained last year that Virtua's development on the corridor, the last developable land in the township, would come at the expense of businesses that could generate tax payments.
But Sanjay K. Pandey, an assistant professor of public policy and administration at Rutgers-Camden, said Virtua's alliance with GE could still be very beneficial for the region.
"It's a promising strategic choice in the sense that it's visionary," Pandey said. "The bottom line is the quality of care. This is where the hospital of tomorrow can be much different than today and they want to get there before everyone else."
Reach Bill Duhart at (856) 486-2576 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Corridors take effect on New Jersey roadways
New law continues Governor's highway safety efforts
Source: NJ DOT web site
P.O. Box 600,Trenton, NJ
Contact: Mike Horan, 609-530-4280
RELEASE: February 6, 2004
TRENTON - State Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today reminded the public that the new “Safe Corridors” law doubling fines on nearly 130 miles of state roadway would take effect on February 15, 2004.
Signed into law by Governor James E. McGreevey in July 2003, the initiative doubles fines for a variety of driving offences, including speeding and aggressive driving, on sections of Routes 1, 9, 22, 40, 46, 47, 73, and 206. The highway sections were designated as “Safe Corridors” based on statistics showing a crash rate 50 percent over the state rate and 1,000 or more crashes over three years.
“It is our responsibility to do everything within our power to ensure that New Jersey's roads are made as safe as possible, and we will take whatever technological, engineering or enforcement steps are necessary to accomplish this goal,” said Lettiere. “Safe Corridors demonstrates our zero tolerance for anyone who jeopardizes the well-being of New Jersey motorists.”
Those stretches of roadway designated as “Safe Corridors” are as follows:
· Just north of the Route 1 Toll Bridge in Trenton to Carnegie Center Boulevard in West Windsor. (MP .06 - MP 10)
· From Henderson Road in South Brunswick to just north of Old Post Road in Edison. (MP 20 - MP 30)
· From Pine Boulevard in Lakewood to Washington Road in South Amboy. (MP 100 - MP 130)
· From Orr Drive in Branchburg to King George Road in Green Brook. (MP 30 - MP 40)
· Just west of New Providence Road in Mountainside to just west of the Route 1/9 interchange in Newark. (MP 50 - MP 60)
· From Cologne Avenue in Hamilton Township to Genoa Avenue in Egg Harbor Township. (MP 50 - MP 60)
· From Down Street in Netcong to just east of West Main Street in Rockaway. (MP 30 - MP 40)
· Just west of New Road in Parsippany-Troy Hills to Valley Road in Clifton. (MP 50 - MP 60)
· Just south of Route 49 in Millville to just north of Arbor Avenue in Vineland. (MP 40 - MP 50)
· Just south of William Feather Drive in Voorhees to Linwood Avenue in Maple Shade. (MP 20 - MP 30)
· From Opossum Road in Montgomery to just north of South Bridge Street in Somerville. (MP 60 - MP 70)
Although there are only 13 “Safe Corridors,” the Commissioner of Transportation has the authority to designate others as necessary, as well as remove those that show improved safety levels. The Department of Transportation will continue to monitor all highway data and review the initial “Safe Corridors” within a year to chart the program's progress.
“As this program moves forward, we will closely monitor the safety level of these corridors and act accordingly. This is just an initial list and more may be added as our data warrants,” said Lettiere. “Other states such as California and Oregon have shown positive results a year after instituting similar safety programs and we are looking forward to these results in New Jersey.”
In addition to the “Safe Corridors” program, the Department of Transportation has taken has taken the lead on a number of projects that increase safety for motorists traveling on New Jersey highways such as the expansion of a statewide “Safety First” sign program highlighting the #77 Aggressive Driver hotline and other safety messages; establishment of Safety Impact Teams to investigate necessary improvements along state highways; expansion of the 100-mile safety barrier program, allocation of $20 million for engineering and technological highway improvements, addition of 500 miles of raised pavement reflectors over the next two years; recorded driver safety public safety announcements; and expanded driver education programs.
Echelon Mall struggles to reinvent self
TINA MARKOE KINSLOW/Courier-Post
The food court at Echelon Mall in Voorhees is popular with workers from nearby office parks, but the remainder of the mall continues to struggle.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
New owners working to revive Voorhees center
By EILEEN SMITH
It's lunchtime at Echelon Mall and the food court is humming as Nicole Myers slips into a seat and offers a french fry to her smiling toddler, Kayla.
But on some days, the 33-year-old registered nurse from Williamstown spends more time and money on lunch than she will shopping at the struggling mall.
"This is a pop-in, convenience kind of mall for when you need something quick," Myers said. "But if you're doing some serious shopping, you go to Cherry Hill or Deptford."
A year after Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) made a deal to buy Echelon, the mall is still riddled with vacancies, most notably two dark anchor stores. Not a single new, permanent tenant has been signed.
Yet merchants and shoppers agree the outlook for Echelon is brighter. The mall already is appreciably cleaner than it has been in the past.
"I see double the maintenance they used to have around here," said Bill Grover, who runs Hall of Heroes, a collectibles and comic book store. "And the PREIT people are running a lot more promotions to bring shoppers to the mall."
To Carol Cressman at Echelon Mall Ministry, the new owners might be the answer to a prayer.
"They work very hard, talking with merchants individually about keeping the windows spiffy," she said. "The improvement in the property and in the attitude of the people is incredible."
Robert Wahlquist, general manager for PREIT's South Jersey properties, said the company is actively seeking solutions for Echelon, but PREIT isn't ready to make an announcement. Last year, a deal to convert an empty department store into office space for Towers Perrin fell through when the human resources consultant opted to renovate the old Langston plant in Cherry Hill.
"Our gut feeling is that people want us to give them a reason to shop at Echelon," Wahlquist said. "We are working toward that."
Philadelphia-based PREIT acquired Echelon from Rouse Co. of Columbia, Md., in a massive, $548-million deal that also included malls in Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Echelon's quirky road access and lack of identity made it a problem child long before it became part of the PREIT family. Sears pulled the plug on its undersized anchor in 2001, only two years after the store was constructed, and JCPenney followed suit in 2002.
Still, surrounding offices contribute to a bustling lunch trade in the food court. Last June, the mall was designated a redevelopment zone to give PREIT tax incentives, as well as the ability to speed improvements by making changes in zoning.
The mall also contains plenty of potential in its 1,136,564 square feet of gross leasable space, second in South Jersey only to Cherry Hill Mall. But while Cherry Hill boasts an occupancy rate of 97 percent, Echelon's rate was 75 percent as of Jan. 2 - and is still slipping.
Earlier this month, Wilson's Leathers and Croydon Mattress exited, opting not to renew their leases. The Sam Goody entertainment center is dark and a Remington personal care store is liquidating, both due to chain-wide closures.
Grover realizes it will be difficult to entice new retailers to sign up until at least one of the vacant anchors has been filled. But he likes what he's seen so far of PREIT's campaign to attract more shoppers.
"Rouse didn't advertise this mall," he said. "But PREIT has been specifically advertising the mall in print ads and TV spots."
Grover believes that kind of marketing is essential if Echelon is to become a shopping destination once more. He lives in Somerdale, less than two miles from the mall.
"I have neighbors who didn't know Echelon Mall existed when I told them I work there," he said.
PREIT is trying to change that with community-oriented promotional events. For the first time in years, Santa Claus hosted a breakfast for holiday shoppers. Walkathons and sports card shows are on the agenda. Saturday at 3 p.m., Boscov's is sponsoring a prom fashion show.
On April 22, the mall will be the setting for the Cherry Hill Chamber of Commerce business fair, in need of a venue with a large block of open space after the closing of the Expo Center in Pennsauken.
Wahlquist said the decision to host the business expo is a boost for the mall and in keeping with PREIT's philosophy of being a good corporate citizen. However, he doesn't see one of the dark anchors becoming permanent convention space.
"I'd say the odds are infinitesimal," he said. "But anything is possible."
If Grover could choose his new retail neighbor, it would be either Dave & Buster's, the entertainment venue, or IKEA, the Swedish-based home center.
"They are both young and cool, with a lot of life," he said.
For her money, Myers would like to see a new department or specialty store, a high-profile retailer such as Lord & Taylor.
"They need those big, heavy stores on the end to get people excited," she said. "Strawbridge's is much smaller than the one at Cherry Hill and Boscov's isn't a big enough draw all by itself."
Analysts said Myers is unlikely to get her wish. Department stores aren't in expansion mode as they address their own problems with falling revenue and a shrinking customer base.
"As many stores as Lord & Taylor has closed, they've become the most risk-averse retailer around," said Britt Beemer, principal of Charleston, S.C.-based America's Research Group. "The mall will likely have to chop up the space in at least one of those anchors because department stores just aren't growing."
Beemer said Kohl's and Target, both of which have standing relationships with PREIT, have sited stores in malls, but that's not the optimum choice in their retail strategy.
"Multi-screen cinemas and entertainment centers are another option," he said. "But malls in this situation need to do something because when the anchors go, the ship is adrift."
To report retail news, contact Eileen Smith at (856) 486-2444 or at email@example.com
Voorhees must plan before potential boom
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Detailed preparation will give the township more control over negotiations with developers.
Virtua Health's plan to partner with General Electric Healthcare and build a regional hospital on Route 73 in Voorhees could kick off a building boom on this corridor.
If the township continues with past efforts to bring in nonindustrial taxable properties, such as professional offices, this could be a boon to township residents.
But Mayor Harry Platt and the council need to get out ahead of this potential development. They should act on development recommendations submitted nearly a year ago by the Route 73 Corridor Review Team. They also should get the township's master plan together sooner rather than later.
There are two issues the township needs to confront before it gets distracted by development plans. First, as the review team pointed out, the Route 73 corridor includes a lot of wetlands that should be protected. Second, the township badly needs more taxable business properties to ease the burden on residential property owners.
The Virtua project and the township's efforts to buy the Kresson Golf Course could help open Route 73 to needed commercial development for Voorhees.
Unlike Evesham and Berlin, Voorhees has not experienced as much commercial development along Route 73. The problem is that there isn't sewer capacity to support such development.
If Virtua buys and develops the 84 acres along the corridor, township officials are expected to require it to pay some of the cost for additional sewer capacity, such as helping to build a pumping station that could serve the corridor.
Also, if the township is successful in buying the Kresson Golf Course from the Aducat family, it could provide potential business developers suitable property for building sewer capacity to serve Route 73. A previous township study found running a sewer line under the golf course was the most viable plan to service the corridor.
Voorhees officials should have a master plan and corridor guidelines in place before Virtua comes to the township with its proposal.
As Lori Volpe, a review team member recently told a Courier-Post reporter: "It's very important to make any zoning changes now, before an application for a major project is filed, so that the development is constructed on the township's terms as opposed to the developer's."
Posted on Thu, Jul. 15, 2004
Echelon Mall to get a Wal-Mart lift
The retailer will move into space left by the departure of J.C. Penney and should open in 2006.
By Suzette Parmley
Inquirer Staff Writer
Ailing Echelon Mall in Voorhees will soon get a major boost with retail powerhouse Wal-Mart moving into space left by a former J.C. Penney store.
The planned 147,550-square-foot Wal-Mart store is expected to open in 2006, a company spokeswoman said. It will join Boscov's and Strawbridge's as anchor tenants. The plan is for a free-standing Wal-Mart to be built in the former Penney's parking lot.
Getting Wal-Mart's commitment represents the first step in a major redevelopment of the troubled mall, said Joseph Coradino, vice president of retail for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which acquired the mall last year.
"We're very excited," Coradino said. "It really means the first step in repositioning Echelon Mall.
Wal-Mart generates traffic and puts the center in position to resume a full range of consumer needs, from fashion to discount, and will enable the mall to attract other tenants."
Harry Platt, Voorhees Township mayor, who has championed Echelon Mall's revitalization, said:
"We're excited to see that the redevelopment is finally under way. This will generate a lot of new traffic for the mall, which will be a shot in the arm for the entire facility."
Platt said negotiations also are under way with retailers to occupy the top level of the former Sears, which closed in 2001. No leases have been signed yet for that space.
PREIT bought the mall in June last year from Rouse Co. - in an agreement that included five other malls - for $548 million. In addition to the Echelon Mall, the package included the Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Exton Square and Plymouth Meeting Malls, and Center City's Gallery at Market East.
The 34-year-old Echelon Mall, where the number of stores has declined steadily from more than 140 in the late-1990s, to fewer than 100, poses special challenges for PREIT. The mall is hemmed in by Somerdale and Burnt Mill Roads, both county roads, and has no direct access to high-volume highways.
The mall was the municipality's main taxpayer and employer for years before its decline. It still is among the township's highest taxpayers.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mia Masten said that having another store in the South Jersey-Philadelphia market plays well into the company's corporate expansion strategy.
"It's a growing area," she said. "You've got the demographics. You've got the infrastructure in place. It's been a successful market for us already, and we're looking forward to opening in Voorhees."
PREIT officials said tearing down the former Penney's will allow for reconfiguring the troubled mall throughout, such as new mall access and the shifting of some storefronts.
Opening vacant anchor space would be consistent with a growing trend, called "de-malling," said Larry Feldman, president and CEO of Feldman Equities Inc. of Manhasset, N.Y., which redevelops troubled regional malls.
"The proliferation of the discounters, the Wal-Marts and Targets, have had an impact," he said. "They are taking market share from a lot of the smaller and weaker malls.
"The only way to invigorate them is to either revamp the tenancy, or knock down a traditional or vacant anchor, and put in tenants, like a Wal-Mart or Target, or other unique, high-drawing tenants," Feldman said.
Echelon Mall has lost two anchors, Sears and J.C. Penney, since 2001.
The mall yesterday had 51 vacancies, 26 on the second floor, and 25 on the first floor.
Coradino said that eventually many of the stores would be replaced by high-end retailers.
"We're re-doing everything, from top to bottom," he said. "The mall is undergoing a complete renovation, including the paint and indoor lighting."
In December, PREIT confirmed plans to demolish 210,000 square feet of retail space, including the vacant 170,000-square-foot J.C. Penney store, to attract a specialty retailer that could custom design a store.
The current value of Echelon Mall had decreased because of its poor location and high vacancy rate. The tax assessment approved by the municipality allows PREIT to pay based on $23 million, down from $51 million last year.
Last year, the Echelon Mall generated $2.54 million in property taxes and accounted for 3.25 percent of the township's nearly $81 million levy for school, county, library and municipal taxes, according to records. This year, it will yield about $1.2 million under the new rate.
Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 856-779-3818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Company Release - 07/14/2004 16:30
Wal-Mart Commits to PREIT's Redevelopment Plan for Echelon Mall
PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 14, 2004--Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust ("PREIT") (NYSE: PEI) announced that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") (NYSE:WMT) will build a 147,550 square foot store at the Company's Echelon Mall in Voorhees, New Jersey. The Wal-Mart store marks the beginning of the redevelopment of Echelon Mall and will occupy an outparcel in the area previously occupied by JCPenney . The Wal-Mart store will join Strawbridges and Boscov's as Echelon Mall's anchor tenants.
Echelon Mall, a 1.1 million square foot mall, was acquired by PREIT in June 2003 as one of six shopping malls in the Philadelphia metropolitan area purchased from The Rouse Company . At acquisition, the mall had two vacant anchors that were purchased by the Company previously occupied by Sears and JCPenney.
Voorhees Mayor Harry Platt stated, "We are excited that PREIT's commitment to Echelon Mall will lead to the addition of the nation's largest retailer. Every store in the mall will benefit from the additional volume of shoppers that Wal-Mart brings. This addition, coupled with future renovations of the mall, will help stabilize this important tax ratable for our Township. We look forward to announcements about future companies who will be opening stores at Echelon Mall and aiding in the redevelopment efforts."
Wal-Mart had been evaluating opportunities in the Voorhees market for several years before committing to Echelon Mall. "When PREIT purchased Echelon Mall from The Rouse Company , they asked us if we were interested," stated Mia Masten, Director of Community Affairs for Wal-Mart. "Wal-Mart is always interested in opportunities where we can re-use or recycle underperforming retail properties that will accommodate our store layouts. Last year we worked with PREIT to occupy a former Bradlees store at Northeast Tower Center in Philadelphia with great success. Wal-Mart would like to replicate that success on another in-fill, re-use opportunity at the PREIT-owned Echelon Mall."
PREIT's redevelopment plan for Echelon Mall also involves remerchandising the former Sears store and creating a new court and mall entrance at the eastern end of the mall facing Echelon Road and the new Wal-Mart. When the redevelopment is complete, Echelon Mall will provide its customers with a variety of traditional mall tenants in an enclosed environment and an open-air center providing a variety of merchandise at promotional pricing. According to Joe Coradino, President of PREIT Services, LLC, "We view the Echelon Mall's location as a superior one in terms of convenience for the local marketplace. Bringing Wal-Mart to the center fits our strategy of re-positioning the property from an enclosed regional mall with a fashion focus to one that meets customer demand for shopping a price spectrum from value to fashion. In addition, our intent is to also offer a range of dining options. We believe that once our re-positioning is complete, Echelon Mall will better serve the community of Voorhees."
PREIT anticipates an investment of an additional $12 to $15 million to complete Echelon Mall's redevelopment, not including the cost of constructing the Wal-Mart store which will be paid by Wal-Mart. PREIT expects to earn a return of 10% to 12% on its incremental investment. Wal-Mart is expected to open in spring of 2006.
About Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust
Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust , founded in 1960 and one of the first equity REITs in the U.S., has a primary investment focus on retail shopping malls and power centers (approximately 33.7 million square feet) located in the eastern United States. PREIT's portfolio currently consists of 58 properties in 14 states. PREIT's portfolio includes 40 shopping malls, 14 strip and power centers and four industrial properties. PREIT is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Company's website can be found at www.preit.com.
This press release contains certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements relate to expectations, beliefs, projections, future plans and strategies, anticipated events or trends and other matters that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements reflect PREIT's current views about future events and are subject to risks, uncertainties, assumptions and changes in circumstances that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. In particular, the successful redevelopment of Echelon Mall is subject to a number of risks, including, among others, cost overruns, the inability to obtain certain governmental approvals and the failure to secure to secure new tenants. Unanticipated expenses or delays would adversely affect PREIT's investments return on the redevelopment project. PREIT's business is also subject to uncertainties regarding the revenues, operating expenses, leasing activities, occupancy rates, and other competitive factors relating to PREIT's portfolio and changes in local market conditions as well as general economic, financial and political conditions, including the possibility of outbreak or escalation of war or terrorist attacks, any of which may cause future events, achievements or results to differ materially from those expressed by the forward-looking statements. PREIT does not intend to and disclaims any duty or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements set forth in this press release to reflect new information, future events or otherwise. Investors are also directed to consider the risks and uncertainties discussed in documents PREIT has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and, in particular, PREIT's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2003.
CONTACT: PREIT Services, LLC
Joseph Coradino, 215-875-0700
KCSA Public Relations Worldwide
Evan Smith, 212-896-1251
Erica Pettit, 212-896-1248
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust