The capstone of the redevelopment project in Collingswood is about four to six weeks away, culminating in the five-story Collings at the LumberYard.
By Matt Skoufalos
A roadway project that will detour motorists on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood for the next four to six weeks also represents the culmination of one of the largest and longest-running redevelopment projects in South Jersey.
Construction of the Collings at the Lumberyard, a five-story reclamation project at the former site of the Peter Lumber building, is entering its homestretch.
A building that is still weeks away from completion already has weathered the collapse of the national housing market, abandonment by its original developer, and the junking of the credit rating of the borough in which it is housed.
Now the finish line itself will be erected. In lieu of a winner’s podium, however, the borough is laying the foundation for a decorative fountain to be placed on a median in the middle of Haddon Avenue.
Construction of the median/fountain, which will be built by Charles Marandino, LLC of Milmay, NJ, and which was designed by Flair Fountains of Minneapolis, MN, was held for the end of the project because the local throughway was a principal delivery route for construction materials used in the completion of the apartments.
On track for November
Lara Schwager, Development Principal for the Cherry Hill-based Ingerman Group, which is building the Collings at the LumberYard, said that the “overall staging” of the project was coordinated with the Collingswood Police Department “to make sure that we tried not to overwhelm that area any more than it already is.”
The building is on schedule for a mid-November opening, and construction is expected to be completed in full by year’s end, Schwager said. Ingerman will become the first commercial tenant to move into the space.
“In November, we’ll open our office and begin occupying the second floor of the building and possibly the third floor,” Schwager said. “The fitness center, community room, and outdoor patio with grill and sitting area and landscaping will be available in November as well.”
More than 40 percent of the 70 units in the five-story apartments have been leased, and they have only been on the market for seven weeks, Schwager said. The renter makeup of the building promises to be diverse, with tenants ranging from the “under-30’s” to the “over-55’s,” she said.
“We’ve got a pretty wide mix,” Schwager said. “We had a lot of local residents in the 34-unit building. This time we are drawing more heavily [from]throughout South Jersey. We’ve had some out-of-state people, some Philly suburb people, and some Philadelphia people as well.”
As for the fountain:“It’ll look beautiful when it’s done.”
‘Absolutely a benefit to us’
Collingswood Acting Police Chief Kevin Carey said that the project should be viewed as “a median strip, traffic-calming device” that will improve public safety for pedestrians.
“It’s absolutely going to be a benefit to us and to the businesses, the residents, the business owners of the town,” Carey said.
Fears that the structure would impede the ability of emergency or delivery vehicles to traverse the avenue are groundless, Carey said.
“There shouldn’t be any issue with even larger, ladder-type trucks,” he said. “NJ Transit buses will be able to get through. Tractor-trailers can still fit through it. It’s not going to squeeze in that much.”
Collingswood Mayor James Maley noted that, at one point some years ago, the borough had considered building a traffic-calming median down the whole of Haddon Avenue. In the time since, however, he said, the project became financially infeasible.
“You wouldn’t [have lost]any parking,” Maley said. “[It] would also have [had]a huge side effect of slowing traffic.
“[But] that’s 10, 15 years ago; it’s way too much money in today’s world,” he said. “The only reason we’re getting this put in the way we’re doing it is it’s part of the LumberYard project and redoing the streets and the water.”
The scope of the road work is being done along Haddon Avenue from East Knight to Woodlawn Avenues, Carey noted.
- Southbound traffic (headed towards Haddon Township) will be detoured around the site along West Browning Road and via Park Avenue.
- All northbound traffic on Haddon Avenue (headed towards Camden) will remain open.
- Powell Lane and North Atlantic Avenues will remain open and accessible via Collings Avenue. The public parking garage at the Lumberyard will also remain open.
- Local traffic only will be allowed to use Haddon Avenue between Browning Road and Knight Avenue.