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CHERRY HILL, NJ-Held up first by a shuffling of its development partnership, and then by a dispute over the number of affordable housing units it will include, the redevelopment of the 213-acre former Garden State Park racetrack site is finally under way (see earlier stories). Following quickly on the heels of planning board approval of the first phase, developer Turnberry Cherry Hill LLC kicked off the project by starting the demolition of the old racetrack’s grandstand.

“The redevelopment of the Garden State Park site will help enhance community life, preserve open space and provide a boost to our local economy,” says Cherry Hill Mayor Bernard Platt. “The rebirth of this site is a win for everyone. While we still have some ways to go toward its completion, we are happy to see it get off the ground.”

The built-out project will cost upwards of $500 million, according to officials of Turnberry Cherry Hill. The developer is actually a consortium of national and regional companies headed by the Aventura, FL-based Turnberry Associates.

What Turnberry aims to create is a mixed-use town square environment. The newly approved first phase calls for an upscale, pedestrian-friendly active-adult residential community of 608 homes. Amenities will include a community center and recreational facilities, and about 45% of the 34-acre phase will be open space. Homebuilder D.R. Horton has signed on to develop the active-adult community.

Preliminary plans for the rest of the project call for a town square-type village encompassing retail, more residential, commercial uses, parks and open space. Plans for new retail along the fronting Route 70 are currently being reviewed by township officials and are expected to go before the planning board shortly.

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place last summer when the courts settled a dispute between the developer and local officials over the number of affordable housing units to be included in the 1,500-home package. That number is 285 units, and more specific plans for the project are expected to be unveiled after the courts approve the dispersal plan for those units.

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