An 11 acre property on Laurel Rd in Stratford is fully cleared of it’s last building, ahead of the start of construction of a new Stratford Senior Living Facility in 2023.
The property in question was previously home to the Tomlinson Mansion which was built in 1844.
While it was hoped that the original main building could be saved as part of the new development, the building was deemed structurally unsound. At times over the decades it did not have the best upkeep and it then sat empty for more than 7 years. The cost to fully restore was just too great.
Brick and other distinctive elements were preserved to be utilized in the new project. The design of the new building will also recreate the front façade of the Tomlinson Mansion building.
In this article we also have an update on the estimated start of the project development, as well as commentary from Stratford Mayor Josh Keenan (which was posted at the Borough website).
The address for the development is 710 W Laurel Road Stratford NJ.
Laurel Road connects the White Horse Pike and Blackwood Clementon Roads, and the new Senior living facility is approximately the mid-point between those two roads.
Note: The article was updated on 8/10/2022 to better clarify the decision process around the mansion. Author Mark chose to modify this after re-reading the article and determining it needed more clarity for the readers.
Stratford Senior Living Facility
The new Senior Living facility will consist of 187 units with supportive services for continued care for citizens of both Stratford and the surrounding communities. The senior community will be age restricted to person who are 62 years old or older, or the surviving spouse of that person that is 55 years or older.
The building will be four stories for most of the development but in the southwest corner it will be 5 stories, due to a slope in the property on that side.
There will be three different types of units; independent living, assistant living and memory care.
The Stratford approval for the project was initially given last year on July 22, 2021.
As is the case with most large projects, there are typically multiple agencies which are needed to give an approval before construction can start.
One key aspect needed for this Stratford NJ project was an approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), regarding the handling of the stormwater for the 11 acre property.
The early hope of developers was to direct the stormwater into wetlands which are on the South-end of the property and lead to the Timber Creek.
Seemingly with challenges in gaining that NJDEP approval, and a few other requested changes from the public and the board, the development team made revisions which needed reapproval.
In January 2022 the development team returned to the Joint Land Use Board for approval of the updated project.
With the updated plan, the stormwater would be directed into the existing West Laurel Road stormwater management system. This was approved by the Boroughs of Stratford, Lindenwold and Laurel Springs, who also utilize this system.
Also included in the new changes were a relocation of trash dumpsters so they would be further from surrounding homes.
Parking configuration changes were done to move handicapped parking to the front of the building as well as overall changes to the parking to separate employee and general public, while also accounting for the relocated dumpster area.
Regarding preserving the memory of the building, Stratford Mayor Keenan states the new Senior Care facility will
incorporate the recreation of the mansion façade into their complex, and to dedicate a room within to show the history of the Tomlinson family in this area, which is more than any other previous owner has done to promote the history of the site.Mayor Josh Keenan, Stratford Mayor
Stratford Senior Living Facility Timeline
The project is being developed by Integrity Community Partners, whose Executive Director of Development is Tony Santora, a Stratford resident.
We checked in on the status of the project starting timeline.
The latest is, there are some final details to work out before they start development.
ICP hopes to start property “earthworks” right after 1st quarter next 2023, and be into full-fledged construction toward the end of summer to early fall of 2023.
Basically it will be another year before we see walls going up.
An estimation on the opening of the new facility is probably still too early to tell.
Stratford’s Tomlinson Mansion & Mayor Keenan’s Thoughts
I have not written about the project at all at 42Freeway, so it’s reasonable that at least my first update should include details on the property’s former buildings which have received considerable discussion in the community.
There were several buildings on the property, but the most notable was the Tomlinson Mansion which sat closest to Laurel Road.
The Tomlinson Mansion was built in 1844 as a farmstead and featured Greek Revival architecture.
To many in town it was one of the last remaining connections to Stratford’s history. The image of the Mansion is actually on the Stratford’s official crest!
Residents organized to try and save the mansion, expecting that it was slated to be saved and given further historical designations and preservations.
A Facebook group called “Save the Tomlinson Mansion” (FB) seems to be the center of the efforts, where they shared information and archived information.
Despite their efforts and 3,000 signatures on a petition, in the early summer of 2022 the core mansion building was demolished due to it being structurally unsound.
In a June 7th Facebook post the Save The Tomlinson Mansion team shared their displeasure that the mansion was now gone. This snippet seems to explain the core of their position.
Over 3,000 people signed a petition asking that the house be spared. The house was even listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. We believe that the house should have been integrated into the planned redevelopment. We also believe that Stratford boro should have only granted the zoning variances needed by developer if the developer had agreed to save the house.Save The Tomlinson Mansion Facebook Post June 7th 2022
As mentioned at the start of the article, it seems a key reason given for not being able to save the building was it had become structurally unsound. The last tenant left 7 years ago, and over the decades the building maintenance at times was lacking.
Crews from the developer and demolition team took care to save bricks and other distinctive artifacts of the building, which will be incorporated into new Senior Center.
In a recent Stratford Website update, Mayor Josh Keenan offers his thoughts on the mansion and the benefits the new project will bring to the town.
The Stratford Senior Living Facility has completed the demolition of the last building on their site. I know some residents were saddened by the loss of the Tomlinson mansion. The mansion has sat for several years now with no regular maintenance mainly due to the bank who was controlling the property after the Christian Academy vacated the buildings.
This property has been tax exempt for several decades now, and many prospective buyers looked at it when it was for sale. There was one developer early on who was going to save the mansion and incorporate it into his plans, but he could not secure financing.
The developers who now own the property are well versed in their field and did plenty of review and study of the site.
Their plans took welcomed initiative by many to incorporate the recreation of the mansion façade into their complex, and to dedicate a room within to show the history of the Tomlinson family in this area, which is more than any other previous owner has done to promote the history of the site.
We are receiving calls from residents wanting to reserve a space for them in this new venture. The older citizens are anxious to see and tour the new facility.
Finally, a new building on this site, paying taxes for which has been a goal of mine since becoming your Mayor in 2016. At its completion it will be a welcomed site coming into Stratford from Laurel Road. Watch for construction to begin by the Fall of this year!Stratford Mayor Josh Keenan on the Tomlinson Mansion site and new development. From the Stratford Borough Website Summer 2022
Links and Locations
Stratford Senior Living Facility – Development Not Started
710 W Laurel Road
Stratford Resolution 2022-08 (PDF)