Skip to Content

Stratford Former Bradlees Conversion to Warehouse Heads to Joint Land Use Review

Stratford Former Bradlees Conversion to Warehouse Heads to Joint Land Use Review
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Sitting unused for over 20 years, the former Bradlees retail store building on the White Horse Pike in Stratford heads to the Stratford Joint Land Use Board Review on January 25th, to finalize the approval for conversion to light industrial warehouse space.

Only the 119,300 sf former Bradlees building is part of this conversion, and the rest of the shopping center will remain as is.  In fact, no driveway access to existing roadways (White Horse Pike) will be modified for this project.

A 120,000 sq ft “Former Bradlees” building in Stratford heads to Joint Land Use Board hearing, looking for approval to convert to Light Industrial/Warehouse

42Freeway reported in June that the property was sold to Velocity Ventures, a company which specializes in redeveloping buildings for warehouse and industrial uses. Realizing that “brick-and-mortar” retailers are on the decline due to the rise in internet shopping, former retail spaces are one of several categories that Velocity looks for conversion opportunities.

And with many older communities mostly filled from decades of development, these former retail properties also give industrial/warehouse businesses an opportunity to located themselves within higher population areas.

Readers will note that some work has already taken place at the property, most notably the removal of the signature Bradlees protruding front entrance. 

My understanding is this fits under a demolition permit and is allowed without Joint Land Use/Planning approvals.   Some minor work may have taken place inside the building just to secure it from further degradation due to weather exposure.

Bradlees remodel starts Velocity Ventures
July 2023 image of the former Bradlees retail building, where crews were removing the distinctive front facade, ahead of conversion into light industrial

The site plans submitted to the Borough of Stratford shows that the front of the building will be used for employee entrances as well as the truck bay doors.

Currently there area 11 truck bay doors total in the front of the building, split to the far outside ends of the front wall..  6 bay doors on the right side, and five bay doors on the left.

Some parking lot reconfiguration will also take place in front of the building, particularly to allow enough room for trucks to turnaround and back into loading docks.

A 120,000 sq ft “Former Bradlees” building in Stratford heads to Joint Land Use Board hearing, looking for approval to convert to Light Industrial/Warehouse

It is my understanding though that the interior of the building for now will not have dividing walls, and the company will wait until they’ve signed on tenants (to understand their square footage needs) before separating the building into multiple segments. 

The marketing brochure for the building the property is zoned for industrial and is ideal for warehouse,
distribution, manufacturing & production users. (Loopnet)

Retail to Warehouse – The Current State of Things

While many in the local community over the years had been hoping for another retail tenant for the space, in my research of newspaper archives I could only find one retail name mentioned for the Stratford property in 23 years since the Bradlees closing!

In early 2001 just weeks after the Bradlees chain closed due to bankruptcy, it was widely reported that Home Depot was going to be taking over the Stratford space with a planned opening for the Fall of 2001!

Those plans for the construction product retailer obviously never came to fruition, and I do not know those details of why.

Another more recent planned usage of the building was proposed in 2019, when Camden County planned to purchase the building and use it as offices for the Board of Social Services. 

Located in close proximity to Patco rail station, the former Bradlees retail store looks for approval to convert to light industrial/warehouse

Former Stratford Mayor Josh Keenan was openly against those plans as the conversion into government space would remove the large building from paying borough taxes.  The Social Services department then chose to move over to the Woodcrest area of Cherry Hill.

The reality of this conversion is, while area residents are regularly looking for high quality retail tenants to come to their communities, the reality is… all of our neighborhood streets are traveled every day by trucks from UPS, Fedex, and Amazon.

In other parts of the country entire shopping malls have been converted into distribution centers, and an NBCNews article from 2021 calls out how Amazon themselves have been targeting closed retail centers to convert into distribution centers.

So the irony is.. there is a chance that the products you buy online today could still come from what was a retail building space… but delivered to you by a delivery truck

Velocity Ventures – Stratford Light Industrial

For that article last summer on the Stratford acquisition, I had a chance to speak with cofounder Tony Grelli who states the key model Velocity Ventures is to buy underused properties that are typically in need of significant upgrades, fully rebuilding them with everything needed to make it basically a brand new building… and then they look for tenants to lease the space.

At this point I do not believe there are tenants signed on for the Stratford property, but the sale last summer did get press from several large Philadelphia media outlets including 42 freeway, so maybe that status has changed!

Velocity Ventures has quickly established themselves as experts in the space of converting unused properties to warehouse industrial uses. Today they have over 100 properties totaling 8,000,000 square feet in their portfolio!

Former Bradlees building in Stratford comparison image, showing the distinctive front facade removed.

Specific to the Stratford Bradlees building, Grelli told 42Freeway that properties which have become neglected for years (decades in the case of the White Horse Pike property), commercial buyers tend to not be able to see past the neglect of the building and the significant work needed to bring the building back to life… so most keep walking away from these projects.

But this is exactly where Velocity Venture shines! They have the talent to achieve a vision of remodeling the space into basically a new building.

As part of this project Velocity will fully clean out the property, adding a new roof, new utility services, new surfaces and walls where needed.   Basically whatever is needed to make the building new again!

Former Bradlees Stratford – Velocity Ventures
222 S White Horse Pike
Stratford, NJ 08084

Velocity Ventures Website

Joint Land Use Board Hearing
January 25, 2024 at 6:30
Public Safety Building
315 Union Avenue
Stratford, NJ 08084.