Voorhees Town Center
Voorhees Town Center signage
|Location||Voorhees Township, New Jersey, USA|
|Owner||Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust|
|No. of anchor tenants||2|
|Total retail floor area||664,380 square feet (61,723 m2)|
|No. of floors||2|
Voorhees Town Center (formerly Echelon Mall) is a regional shopping mall and a future residential area located in Voorhees Township, New Jersey, United States. It was built in 1970, and was named after an airfield called Echelon Airfield, that used to be where the mall stands today.Coordinates:  The Echelon Mall was renamed Voorhees Town Center in 2007.
The site on which the Echelon Mall was built began as an airfield: nearly 200 acres (0.81 km2) of farmland bought by flying enthusiasts Rogers and Jeannette Smith in 1939. The Echelon Airfield was incorporated in 1944 and went on to house 20 planes. The development included three grass runways, a gift shop, a small café and hangar capable of housing six planes. The airfield was mostly used for recreational flying, flying lessons, and a take-off point for crop dusters and chartered flights.
Rogers Smith died in a flying accident in 1950, and his wife leased the airfield to Hugh and Kay Hamill, who ran the airfield until Mrs. Smith sold the property in 1962. The new owners renamed the field Delaware Valley Airpark, and ran it for three more years. In 1969, groundbreaking occurred to construct the Echelon Mall. Developed by The Rouse Company, the mall opened in 1970.
Until redevelopment began in January 2007, the Echelon Mall had a gross leasable area of 1,127,308 square feet (104,730 m²). This made it the second largest mall in southern New Jersey after the Cherry Hill Mall. Echelon was developed in 1970 as the center of a residential and commercial center in Voorhees. In October 1992, the Echelon Mall opened a family entertainment center called Exhilarama, which was owned and operated by Edison Brothers Stores. Exhilarama was a popular indoor amusement center throughout the mid-1990s until it closed in 1996. Housed in the same building as Exhilarama, was a General Cinema movie theater, which closed a few years later. The building was demolished and the land used to provide parking for the mall.
Echelon was a popular mall up until around 2000, when the mall began to struggle to the point where some were preparing to call it a dead mall, though the surrounding area was (and still is) not in decline. By 2005, the vacancy rate was nearly 75%. Echelon had several problems that contributed to its high vacancy rate, including overexpansion; the mall had four anchors. Sears, which was built in 1998, closed just three years later. Also, the rest of the mall did not receive a much needed renovation to stay competitive and attractive. J.C. Penney left the mall shortly after Sears. There had been a gradual loss of national chains since. Most of the upper level is vacant (especially down the Macy's end).
Numerous other malls are located nearby, including Cherry Hill Mall and moderately-sized malls in Moorestown and Deptford. While Echelon competed with these centers for years, the advent of newer centers such as The Promenade at Sagemore in Marlton, and significant renovation of the Deptford Mall, with the addition of a J.C. Penney, have provided more attractive shopping alternatives in the area. Also, whereas most United States shopping malls are located near an Interstate highway or at least a principal thoroughfare, Echelon is relatively difficult to get to, located at the somewhat obscure intersection of Somerdale and Burnt Mill Roads in Voorhees.
After its proposal for a Wal-Mart store was rejected by residents, PREIT submitted plans to demolish the abandoned anchor stores and adjacent mall space to make way for a mixed-use "town center" featuring a 65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) supermarket and 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2) of retail stores along a landscaped boulevard. PREIT renovated the downsized mall to house 253,000 square feet (23,500 m2) of small specialty shops along with anchor stores Macy's and Boscov's.
The mall has been officially renamed as Voorhees Town Center. The groundbreaking ceremony on the new project was on January 30, 2007. The former Sears and JCPenney buildings, and the mall corridor between Macy's and the former JCPenney had been demolished.
As of December 2007, work has been completed on the mall portion of the town center. Condos and new office complexes have been built.
In May 2011, the Voorhees Township municipal offices relocated to the town center. According to PREIT, the Voorhees Town Center is only the third mall in the United States to be anchored by municipal offices.
- Boscov's (173,000 sq ft.; originally Lit Brothers, later Gimbels and then Stern's)
- Macy's (224,000 sq ft.; formerly Strawbridge's)
- Sears (built and opened in 1998, closed 2001, demolished 2007)
- JCPenney (closed December 2003, demolished 2007)
- "Voorhees Town Center Fact Sheet". PREIT. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
- "PREIT Announces Construction to Begin on Voorhees Town Center: Demolition of former Sears Building at Echelon Mall Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 11:00 AM Redevelopment will transform Echelon Mall into Voorhees Town Center", PREIT press release dated January 29, 2007. Accessed February 28, 2008.
- "Echelon Mall: Voorhees, New Jersey". deadmalls.com. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- Ott, Dwight (October 19, 1986). "The Easy Way Out Of South Jersey". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
- Misenko, Rachel (September 9, 2009). "Echelon Airfield will be focus of Voorhees tribute". Courier-Post. Retrieved September 9, 2009.[dead link]
- Directory of Malls: Echelon Mall. Accessed August 16, 2014.
- "ICSC SHOPPING CENTER DEFINITIONS: Basic Configurations and Types", International Council of Shopping Centers. Accessed August 16, 2007.
- Wither Echelon?, Tom Lorenz's Blog. March 4, 2005
- Grzyboski, Lisa. Town Center project under way in Voorhees, Courier-Post, January 31, 2007.[dead link]
- "Voorhees moves town hall to new mall". NJ.com. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Voorhees Town Center.|
- Voorhees Town Center website
- PREIT press release
- International Council of Shopping Centers: Echelon Mall