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VOORHEES, NJ-Wal-Mart is out of the picture in Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust’s plans to redevelop the aging Echelon Mall here. PREIT and Wal-Mart had announced just over a year ago that they had a deal for the latter to build a 148,000-sf store on an outparcel once occupied by J.C. Penney at the 1.2 million-sf, 1970s-era enclosed mall.

Instead, the Philadelphia-based PREIT will push forward with a new plan to redevelop Echelon Mall as a mixed-use complex. The company bought the property in 2003 as part of a portfolio of six older regional malls in metro Philadelphia, paying the Rouse Co. almost $550 million. Rouse had built the mall as the commercial centerpiece for its Echelon planned community in this South Jersey township.

The Wal-Mart store was to have been the initial step in the site’s redevelopment. PREIT officials would not say what happened to the Wal-Mart deal and Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment.

Instead, Echelon Mall will be renamed Voorhees Town Center and redeveloped as a combination retail and residential property. Under general plans just unveiled by Joseph Coradino, president of PREIT Services LLC, the existing mall including its Boscov’s and Strawbridge’s department stores will be substantially upgraded and approximately 200,000 sf of new lifestyle retail space will be added to the mix.

Also part of the plan, according to Coradino, is a residential component that will consist of 450 new mid-rise condo and rental apartment units. The new site plan also calls for a wide, landscaped boulevard entering the site.

“Voorhees Town Center will serve as the shopping, entertainment and residential center for this established community,” Coradino says. “The revised plan includes needed service and convenience retail stores, as well as the luxury condominiums and rental apartments that have seen strong demand in this market.”The plan still requires various local approvals. In the meantime, the previous plan to add Wal-Mart has formally been withdrawn from local consideration. The original retail makeover with Wal-Mart involved was to have cost PREIT an estimated $15 million, not counting Wal-Mart’s cost of building its own store. Coradino did not comment on how much the new plan will cost, although it’s expected to be substantially more. He says only that, “further details about Voorhees Town Center, including tenancy, development details and costs, will be announced in the near future.”

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