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PENNSAUKEN, NJ-Local and Camden County officials have narrowed the field to three proposals that would turn the 65-acre Pennsauken Mart site into a brand-new mixed-use project. Officials say they expect to make their decision by mid-November, and that the Mart will officially be shuttered on October 1.

All of the three proposals call for demolition of Pennsauken Mart, a sprawling complex of 13 buildings that date back to the mid-50s. More flea market than traditional shopping center, the site has been a shopping landmark of sorts, but has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years. As reported by GlobeSt.com, the Camden County Development Authority bought the property from EMK Penn Realty for $13.2 million in May of 2004, with the intention of turning it into a civic center, arena and conference center.

But bowing to market conditions and public sector fiscal concerns, the county and city subsequently put the property up for bid for private development. The priciest of the three proposals just unveiled to the public by city and county officials is the $155-million project offered up by the locally based D’Anastasio Corp., which calls for some 500 residential units and 300,000 sf of mixed commercial space.

The Atlanta-based Beazer Homes and the Lavallette, NJ-based AST Development, if chosen, would team up to build 556 residential units and almost 500,000 sf of retail, office and cultural space, with an initial price tag in the $110-million range.

The third proposal comes from a joint venture of the Red Bank, NJ-based K. Hovnanian Cos. and the Trenton, NJ-based R. Berman Development Co. Their project would be mostly residential, 444 units plus a 50,000-sf commercial component, carrying an estimated price tag of $96.5 million. A five-member committee, headed by county freeholder director Louis Capelli, Jr. and appointed by the Camden County Improvement Authority will make the call.

“This is a major step in improving the quality of life and perception of our community,” Pennsauken Mayor Jack Killion said in announcing the three finalists. “Forty or 50 years ago, the Mart was a landmark, a fun place to go. But the property became deteriorated and in need of a facelift.”

The county has already moved to demolish the existing buildings, with six of the 13 already knocked down. When the rest of the Mart officially closes this fall, many of the more than 80 merchants still operating on-site will be relocated within the region with the help of a relocation benefits fund set up by the county.

The project is also getting a boost from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a state agency. CRDA has committed to a contribution of more than $24 million, marking the agency’s largest grant to any project outside of Atlantic City.

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