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Cooper Towne Center — the former Lion’s Head Plaza along the White Horse Pike in nearby Somerdale — has won a Smart Growth Award from New Jersey Future for its transformation from a once almost vacant facility into a thriving center for business and residential purposes.
“They first convinced the largest property owner to get involved,” NJ Future explained on its site. “Then they brought together a group of residents, local leaders, economic experts and planners to develop a vision plan aimed at improving physical, economic and social conditions in the area. They discovered that within a short walk of each other lay several significant but under-utilized properties that could be redeveloped and linked together in a meaningful way.”
So far, about $40 million in renovations have taken place — all private funds, according to NJ Future. And the facility that once had little more than an aging movie theater and a few other shops has now drawn a Wal-Mart, Applebee’s, LA Fitness, GameStop and more.
“This model for redevelopment can serve other municipalities in the County,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said on the county website. “The Smart Growth award is great, but even more rewarding is seeing all these new stores, new housing, new restaurants like Applebee’s and even a microbrewery in this space.”