An eight-story, 185,000 square foot commercial office building in Voorhees is proposed to be converted into Senior Apartments.
The building is located across from the “Echelon” Voorhees Town Center Mall complex. A branch of the Camden County Public Library is directly next to tall Laurel Road building.
It appears that today the building is mostly unoccupied (several floors are occupied by the State of New Jersey, for example), and the conversion to residential uses could new life back to the building and area, particularly within the Voorhees Town Center which continues to be mostly under utilized.
Before developers can move forward with plans for the conversion to the building to residential uses, the company must gain approval from the Voorhees Township Zoning Board. That meeting is set for February 8, 2024 at 7 PM.
The public notice states that the building is located in the Township Center Zoning District where townhomes and apartments are permitted, however the particular lot where the eight story building is located is restricted to only non-residential uses.
While officially known as 4 Echelon Plaza, to many in South Jersey it was known as the United Engineers building as the Company was the largest tenant in the space for decades, and there used to be a large company sign on the property identifying it as United Engineers.
So while most of us never had a chance to set foot in the prominent building, with it’s location directly across from the once popular Echelon Mall and next to the library, many thousands of South Jersey residents used to drive past the building ever week!
First opened 50 years ago the building also includes a large multi-level parking garage. It was once home to hundreds of well paid engineering workers. Additionally there were other tenants in the building, including Traveler’s Insurance.
I tried to track down when United Engineers moved out of the building (it’s been many years) but could not pinpoint that date.
Records show that the building was sold just a few years ago, and a website was created (201LaurelRoad.com) to promote the property for new commercial tenants. The online marketing information states a new HVAC system was added, as well as elevator upgrades.
While details are unclear at this time as to why the switch to residential uses, it’s tough to ignore that there are definitely challenges in the US commercial office space, as companies have moved to remote working arrangements as well as just an overbuild of commercial real estate offices throughout the region and country.
There are not a lot of details on the plans in this public notice other than conversion to Senior Apartments which will include various amenities.
It seems that the developer is first looking for a determination that they can utilize the building for residential purposes, and if so I imagine they would return for approval of the actual apartment conversion process.
From the public notice:
the Applicant seeks a determination by the Zoning Board in its capacity as the body authorized to render interpretations that adaptive re-reuse of the office building for senior rental units is a permitted use. If the Board determines that a use variance is required, the Applicant seeks such relief to permit the proposed renovation of the office building for residential purposes201 Laurel Road – Senior Apartment Conversion
The senior apartments are being proposed by Pinnacle Luxury Residences, which appears to be a localized LLC created to support the project.
The address and contact information for the LLC leads to Hospicomm, which is a New Hope PA based management and consulting solutions practice… primarily focused on management of senior and elder care facilities.
Voorhees Town Center
As mentioned the building is located across from the Voorhees Town Center… more specifically the Boscov’s department store. Boscov’s is open in the Voorhees location and appears to be doing well.
The once thriving Echelon Mall though has struggled in recent years.
Now named the Voorhees Town Center, earlier efforts to revive the property included demolishing half of the enclosed shopping mall, and building a separate outdoor main street experience with restaurants, stores and apartments.
It was hoped that the smaller sized enclosed mall would be able to attract new tenants… but even with the movement of the Voorhees Municipal Building offices to the mall, the interior space is mostly not abandoned.
Voorhees has been preparing different redevelopment ideas, which have included the development of apartments around the perimeter of the property.
Maybe the plans for the new senior apartments across the street at Four Echelon Plaza could be a necessary spark to bring more shoppers back to the Voorhees Town Center.
I know readers will ask for updates on the Voorhees Town Center plans… I’ll see what I can come up with.
Links and Location
Four Echelon Plaza – Senior Apartments (Proposed)
201 Laurel Rd
Voorhees Township Zoning Board Meeting
February 8, 2024 at 7 PM
Following 6:45 PM Caucus
2400 Voorhees Town Center
Voorhees, NJ 08043