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CHERRY HILL, NJ-It survived a break-up of its development partnership and a court battle over affordable housing, and the proposed $500 million redevelopment of the 223-acre site of the defunct Garden State Park race track seems finally ready to move ahead. What developer Turnberry Cherry Hill plans to do with the site is put up a combination of offices, retail space, a sizable residential component and a variety of entertainment and recreational uses, including a 50,000-sf off-track betting facility (see earlier stories).

Lead developer Turnberry Associates of Aventura, FL, which bought the property from International Thoroughbred Breeders for $30 million almost three years ago, originally had Berwyn, PA-based Realen Properties lined up as its joint venture partner. But, faced with development delays that eventually reached more than two years, the latter backed out late last year.

Turnberry has solved that problem by selling a 50% interest to a new partner, M&M Properties of Piscataway, NJ. “M&M” are Jack Morris, a principal of Piscataway-based Edgewater Properties, which is primarily a residential developer; and Joseph Marino, a principal of Marino-Century 21 Development Co. of Newark, NJ, which is primarily a retail developer.

And the last major hurdle has been cleared with a court agreement on the number of affordable housing units that will be included in the project’s 1,500-unit residential component. Turnberry had proposed to build just under 240 such units, but the matter ended up in court after Fair Share Housing, a local group, pressed for more than 380 such units. Under the new court-ordered agreement, the number has been set at 285.

Indeed, Turnberry Cherry Hill accepted the compromise number largely to get the project going. “We have been losing something like $3.6 million a year in carrying costs,” Turnberry Cherry Hill attorney Ronald Morgan told reporters after the agreement was reached.

The first phase into the ground will actually be an active adult housing community, according to Turnberry officials. For that, Turnberry Cherry Hill has brought in a third developer—SGS Communities of Englishtown, NJ has gotten the nod. Specifics of the remaining phases still have to be worked out, although a general development plan is in place.

Next in line is likely to be the $3 million, 50,000-sf OTB complex, which will provide a link of sorts to the site’s horse racing past. Joint venturers for that are Greenwood Racing, which owns Philadelphia Park race track, and Penn National Gaming, which operates Penn National race track in Harrisburg, PA and has riverboat casino interests. Greenwood officials say the facility will generate $40 million a year.

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