COLLINGSWOOD, NJ-Alright, the idea of building condominiums at the heart of this hip little southern New Jersey borough didn’t work out too well, even if they were perfectly positioned to be “transit-oriented,” the proven secret to development success in the northern part of the state.
Even a site beside a PATCO station couldn’t save the marketability of condos amidst the housing market crash. But now, the Ingerman Development Group of Cherry Hill is restarting the project: It broke ground last week on a retooled development plan that will include more than 100 rental apartments, retail space and a new headquarters for Ingerman itself.
The six-year-old LumberYard project was originally designed as a three-building, condo complex on Haddon Avenue, a street so cool it has been recognized as one of the “Top 10 Great Streets in America” by the American Planning Association.
The borough guaranteed a $4.5 million construction loan for the original developer. That came back to haunt it after the project stalled: the borough’s credit rating was downgraded in 2011.
When Ingerman came looking for a new site for its headquarters, it decided to take on development of the entire LumberYard project. Its commitment helped lead to restoration of the credit rating, according to borough officials.
“We bought the note from the bank to take over the unfinished condo building,” Lara Schwager, Ingerman’s development principal tells GlobeSt.com. “This spring we will close on the big land parcel next to it, which will be the site of our headquarters building.”
She said Ingerman will relocate about 40 employees to Collingswood, which has a walkable downtown, eclectic shops and a “Restaurant Row” along Haddon Avenue.
“This is really a unique opportunity in southern Jersey,” Schwager said. “To have a nice-sized community, all the borough charm that comes with it, and you can be in Philly in 15 minutes with the PATCO.”
“It’s typical in northern New Jersey to find this type of transit-oriented development,” she said, “but here we feel we will be one-of-a-kind.”
Ingerman will begin work soon on finishing the 34-unit condo building, maintaining the original unit plans as “very spacious, deluxe rentals,” Schwager said. Leasing of apartments, which range up to 2,000 square feet, with some including dens and decks, is to begin this spring
The building will be pet-friendly, and apartments will have generous closet space, gourmet kitchens and full-size washers and dryers.
In May, construction will be begin for a five-story building with 70 high-end apartmentsand ground-floor commercial space that will house Ingerman’s headquarters and 1,500 square feet of retail.
Numerous lifestyle amenities for residents are also planned for the second phase of construction, including an outdoor courtyard with grill, covered parking, common-area WiFi, a community room and fitness center. The second set of apartments is to be ready by early 2014.