Berkeley Shopping Center Here To Stay For Now
If you drive Route 9 through Berkeley Township, then you've probably seen that dilapidated eyesore of a shopping center.
The Beachwood Shopping Center has remained virtually vacant for almost a full decade and plans for a revamp continue to move forward at a snail's pace. Officials are dealing with several issues that have come up and Hurricane Sandy didn't help matters.
It was once home to a popular supermarket, a bowling alley and a Woolworth. For the last ten years, it's become more and more run down. During Sandy, one of the buildings caught fire blamed on electrical wiring that was still active. Mayor Carmen Amato says they've been working on plans to tear it down and start fresh to bring in new ratables. However, that appears to be on hold for now.
Amato explains "with the current state of the economy and the astronomical costs associated with cleaning up the site, both the owner and developer are hesitant about moving forward. Our problem is the structure on site is not safe and we want to make sure people don't end up being injured or killed there."
Amato and many other Township officials see the site as the perfect way to bring in more money and jobs to the community. He says "we are hoping to see some box stores, small businesses, maybe some restaurants on the site. But right now, with all the vacant storefronts up and down Route 9, it's just not possible yet. We are not giving up and we will be meeting with the lawyers soon."
One of the biggest stumbling blocks will be the area known as Johnson's Pit behind the shopping center. The site once housed an asphalt factory and there are concerns of soil contamination. Amato tells WOBM News, they have every intention of cleaning it up first and have already had talks with the State Department of Environmental Protection.
So for now, the shopping center with twisted metal and exposed sheet rock remains. There is no time table on when the project will move forward.