A Jersey town's retail dream

A high-end complex of outlet stores is being proposed for Gloucester Township, a Camden County suburb that has long hoped to land a destination retail center.

"It's finally happening,' Mayor David Mayer says. "It will have between 90 and 120 stores...and will generate further economic development."

The township on Wednesday approved the site plan for the 450,000-square-foot "Gloucester Premium Outlets at Gloucester Township"  on a 55-acre tract near the College Drive exit of the 42 Freeway and the Black Horse Pike. A partnership including the Simon Property Group is the developer; company representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to Mayer, the center will include a substantial amount of outdoor space for dining and other activities and create 700 permanent jobs. "It will put Gloucester Township on the map," he says. "We have had such an identity challenge."

With a population of 65,000 people spread across 23 square miles, the township is nearly as large as Cherry Hill. But it is perhaps best known by the names of the once-rural villages, including Blackwood, Blenheim, and Erial, that lie within its borders. And its limited shopping opportunities have vexed local officials and residents for decades.

"What it shows us is, developers and retail companies have confidence in Camden County as a marketplace," says Freeholder-Director.Louis Cappelli Jr.  "We are thrilled."

Some residents near the site of the proposed center are not so happy, Patch reports. But Mayer says he "hopes to have a shovel in the ground in September," with a grand opening before the end of 2014.