A big Stratford NJ “Bradlees” update! We’ve learned that the long planned Royal Farms is set to start construction in April 2021. The Dollar General recently opened. Tim Horton’s Foundation has started construction… and the town leaders are NOT happy with the change of plans for the core Bradlees property to County use, and seemingly have blocked it successfully, but have they?! Read on!
The New Road traffic signal is the little intersection that could… the White Horse Pike at New Road in Stratford is seeing a lot of attention right now. As mentioned this is an intersection which leads into the “Bradlees” shopping center, where the core 110,000 sq ft store has been closed for many years with a changing set of redevelopment plans. But first…
UPDATES: At the end is the section on the Bradlees property and County wanting to take it over. I’ve had to update it within the first hour. Wanted to put this up top to call out but read more at the bottom.
- Nov 2019 County makes announcement of plans to take over Bradlees for offcies.
- May 2020 Stratford puts out a press release rejecting the proposal.
- June 2020 Freeholders meet and in the same document it is discussed “since Stratford rejected the board of social services moving there is Lakeland an option” implying Stratford wasn’t happening, but then the SAME minutes have a resolution regarding starting the negotiations with Stratford property owner!
Trying to get more details
We’ll start with… we’ve learned that the long planned Royal Farms Convenience Store for Stratford NJ is moving forward, targeting a construction start date in April 2021.
So the new Royal Farms is planned to sit on the White Horse Pike, at the front of the “Bradlees” Shopping Center… at the entrance where the New Road traffic signal is located. Previously the Chinese Buffet/Eric Movie Theater building was at the site.
For those who aren’t aware, Royal Farms is based out of Baltimore Maryland, and in the same category as “Super” Wawas…. convenience stores and gasoline.
Where Wawa is the king of hoagies, Royal Farms’ signature item is fried chicken.
Royal Farms came into our area a few years ago with a big push which quickly added several stores in towns such as Magnolia, Bellmawr, Gloucester City, Blackwood and more. But then it seem things got quiet with Royal Farms development in our immediate area, as they focused on stores in other parts of state…
This left many wondering if they were “done” adding in our area of South Jersey. Well 42Freeway is saying that yes, Stratford is coming soon-ish, not to mention development of a Royal Farms in Absecon is scheduled to start around the same time, and a Brick location is targeting a May 2021 opening.
Oh and the Magnolia store is getting a Jiffy Lube and Car wash added next to it. But I digress.
Dollar General Stratford (and Dollar Tree!)
Within the last 2 months a brand new construction Dollar General store opened, also at the front of the Bradlees shopping center. When you turn into the center at New Road, the Royal Farms will be positioned there, and the new Dollar General sits next to that lot on the left.
Dollar General is also in the midst of a large expansion in South Jersey, and in fact they are definitely leading the pack in terms of growth with new stores opened and planned all over the 42Freeway area.
In a related development.. dollar store Dollar Tree recently opened a very short distance away at a converted Walgreen’s building, on the other side of the White Horse Pike in the corner of the Patco parking lot.
We reported recently that the Stratford Mayor and redevelopment team stated that the Tim Horton’s construction would start soon, at the opposite corner of the New Rd Intersection (next to TD Bank)… and they were right on the money as the very next week, construction fencing appeared at the empty prime corner lot.
Our visit yesterday tells us that the fencing was more than just show, as construction crews were very active on the site building out the Tim Horton’s building foundation.
Tim Horton’s is a Canada based donut and coffee shop, offering lunch items and other baked treats. This location is a first for our area, in a coffee business that is dominated by Wawa, Dunkin, and Starbucks.
Our opinion is, with territorial franchises already awarded for the big coffee outlets… an enterprising franchisee went “outside the box” to bring Tim Horton’s into the 42Freeway area. Hopefully this is the first of many.
Probably for similar reasons, a new Krispy Kreme location is planned for the Deptford Mall parking lot area, giving 42Freeway readers many more coffee and donut options!
Bradlees Store Property
Back in 2017 we wrote about the plans for a new Dollar General and Royal Farms store, as well as a complete redevelopment of the core 22 acre property. At the time it was expected that the center would be a multi-use facility possibly bringing retail, commercial, residential and medical uses to the site.
It would’ve been a key win for Stratford…. the town was excited about the prospects of new people traffic to the area to support additional business growth…
… as well as significant new tax revenue.
Change in Plans? Town Not Happy!
42Freeway missed the big news in 2019… that the developer’s plans for the core Bradlees property changed. The Camden County Board of Social Services had become the leading candidate to take over the property… rebuilding the 110,000 sq ft building into their new home.
Yes it would still bring 500 new workers to the area each day, and they would presumably shop and dine in the local stores.
But if the County took over ownership of the property… being a government entity it would be non-profit, and the expected tax revenue to Stratford would not materialize!
Update (mins after posting): We found the Camden County Freeholder May 21st meeting minutes which say Stratford had successfully rejected the plans
The question is now that Stratford has rejected the Board of Social Services moving there, can the Lakeland campus be considered for a possible option? The answer is, all options are being considered.
But then the SAME meeting minutes list a resolution to start negotiations!?
Resolution authorizing the County of Camden (Department of Administration) to enter into negotiations, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 20:3-1, et seq., with Stratford Square Urban Renewal Condominium Association, LLC, for the purchase of a portion of 222 S. White Horse Pike (a portion of Block 62, Lot 2), in the Borough of Stratford.
So how displeased was current Mayor Keenan and the Stratford Council regarding the change in the Bradlees project plans?
Well you can read the Mayor and Town’s opinion right on the town website, presented as a press release dated May 18,2020. The main redevelopment page has been updated this fall (within the last 2 months) and they still have this press release commentary presented.
Here are some highlights of the Stratford press release.
Recently, Mayor Josh Keenan and Stratford Borough Council stood their ground for our residents and rejected an agreement between Brandywine and Camden County government that would have paved the way for the enormous tax-exempt Camden County Social Services Offices to occupy the former Bradlees Department Store site.
The proposed sale would breach financial and other terms of its agreement with the Borough of Stratford.
…would completely change the nature of the approved redevelopment resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenues to the Borough over the next 30 years.
Brandywine who reneged on its deal for the retail project, refused to negotiate in good faith with the Borough and made no attempt to offset the loss of millions of dollars in revenues to our residents and taxpayers.
So it seems those strong words “stuck”, because as I found in the June Freeholder minutes…they’ve seemed to have agreed that the Stratford plans aren’t going through?! or are they?
To be clear, folks at Brandywine and the County… these are not 42Freeway words… they are right from the Stratford town website, and online at this exact moment as I publish.
But if any of the three organizations (Stratford included) want to share thoughts on this, please feel free to reach out!