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Position Papers

CCSNJ Support of A-1294

Economic Development

TO: Members of the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee

FROM: Hilary Chebra, Manager, Government Affairs, CCSNJ

RE: Support of A-1294 (Greenwald/Calabrese)

DATE: March 7, 2020

The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) would like to voice our support for A-1294 (Greenwald / Calabrese) which authorizes conversion of certain office parks and retail centers to mixed-use developments.

As written, this bill would establish a limited preemption from local zoning regulations for applications to convert certain office parks and retail centers into mixed-use developments. In years past, shopping malls and suburban office parks flourished, however changes in how customers like to work, live and shop have changed the attractiveness of these office parks and retail centers. Walkability, access to public transit, and other urban amenities have grown significantly as attractions for young families to live and work. 

New Jersey, and particularly South Jersey, is a suburban-dominated, automobile-dependent economy and lifestyle which is now often regarded as a disadvantage. This has unfortunately led to the closure of many malls and office parks, leaving these large empty structures, called stranded assets. This has also led to the loss of businesses and jobs for the region. For example, in November of 2020, two mall operators, CBL and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), filed for bankruptcy protection. PREIT, based in Philadelphia, has more than 20 properties, including Cherry Hill Mall, Moorestown Mall and Cumberland Mall in Vineland.

While there are opportunities for repurposing stranded assets into mixed-use communities, a significant impediment to do so are outdated, rigid zoning regulations that often separate residential and commercial uses from each other. This bill will encourage developers to repurpose stranded assets by temporarily preempting local use restrictions that stand in the way of attempts to redevelop stranded single-use regional shopping centers and office parks into vibrant, desirable, mixed-use communities.

For these reasons, the CCSNJ urges you to support A-1294 (Greenwald / Calabrese).

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For any Government-related comments, questions or suggestions please contact:

Hilary Chebra 

Manager, Government Affairs, CCSNJ

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