Berkeley officials rejoiced in July when the State Planning Commission gave its long-sought okay to the township's massive redevelopment plan.
The plan approval meant that Donato Donofrio - the redeveloper of record - was free to iron out a cleanup agreement with the owner of the dilapidated Beachwood Shopping Center and get started on the redevelopment.
But nothing has happened since then. Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. said after tonight's Township Council meeting he plans to call Donofrio to see if he still wants to proceed.
Estimates to clean up the asphalt plant behind the defunct shopping center, remove asbestos from the buildings and raze the site have ranged as high as $50 million, Amato said.
"Removal will be costly," he said.
The 142-acre site is still currently owned by Priscilla Oughton, daughter of the late James E. Johnson, who built the shopping center decades ago. While Donofrio is the developer of record, he has not signed a contract to purchase the property.
Berkeley's redevelopment plan includes the other three redevelopment areas in the township, also known as "nodes." But the Beachwood Shopping Center is ground zero in the township's redevelopment plan.
The shopping center area is part of the Town Center 1 receiving area, and runs along the highway from the township line near Mizzen Avenue in Beachwood to the C.B. Huntington restaurant, according to a real estate market analysis by Philadelphia-based Urban Partners submitted to the township.
The Town Center 2 portion of the plan includes the ShopRite shopping center and the Shar-a-Dee apartment complex.
The third portion of the project is an extension of a light industrial area along Hickory Lane. The fourth section involves more intensive mixed use development of 73 parcels along Route 9 near Harbor Inn Road, according to the report.
Come back to Berkeley Patch soon for more information on this developing story.