If you travel along Route 322 in Woolwich Township regularly, you’ve experienced the backups caused by the road construction at the intersection of Kings Highway. This construction is being done to widen the intersection to a five-lane cross section, which will include turning lanes.
“The work on the intersection was undertaken and is being funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation because it has seen the potential for growth to the area,” said Vernon Marino, Mayor of Woolwich Township.
The intersection will reopen in early December of this year, although other ancillary improvements to the intersection will continue into next year.
The $8.1 million intersection widening project is only a small part of the growth and development happening in Woolwich Township.
The Kings Landing Regional Center, also to be located along Kings Highway and Route 322, will encompass 2.5 square miles of the 21-square-mile Woolwich Township.
Before planning and building can start, water and sewer access need to be brought to the remainder of the regional center area, and that process will begin in the second half of 2020 and take 18 to 24 months to complete.
“We are partnering with the county, who can provide sewer treatment access for the entire build-out,” explained Matt Blake, Director of Community Development for Woolwich Township. “And because the entire build-out is now on the table, the township has already attracted more potential developers and businesses.”
“The provision of public water is being provided by New Jersey Aqua and will follow the installation of sewers and be available as needed to center developers,” Blake added.
This forward-thinking water and sewer solution will not require additional road construction, which is good news for motorists. All construction for the lines will be done alongside or under existing roadways.
First to be built on the Kings Landing Regional Center grounds will be 3 to 4 mega-warehouses, with the first one scheduled to begin construction in Spring of 2020 behind the Damask Candies retail shop, a location that already has water and sewer access.
In addition to the warehouses, the center’s developers are also in discussion with gas stations, hotels, car dealerships, fast food restaurants and other potential retail options.
Approximately 3,000 housing units are also being considered over time for final build-out of the center, including single-family homes, townhouses, condos, twins, and affordable housing options.
As Woolwich Township encompasses the largest undeveloped turnpike exchange in the state, and now with the entire build-out getting access to water and sewer, Blake is confident that the Kings Landing Regional Center will experience a flurry of site planning and other activity in 2020.
That sounds like a lot, but Woolwich has even more planned for 2020 and beyond.
Weatherby Town Center includes a variety of locations bisected by Center Square and Auburn Roads in Woolwich Township, with some development already completed. All Weatherby locations already include water and sewer access, and all additional planning is done and will be carried out by four different developers.
When completed, Weatherby will offer residents a generous mix of housing options, all of which will feature walkable, center-based community living.
One of Weatherby Town Center’s first projects of 2020 will be an 80-room assisted living center which will be located in front of the municipal building. An Inspira imaging center and medical offices are being planned and will be located next door.
Across the street, a 77,000-square-foot Zallie’s Shop Rite shopping center is planned with a café, red brick façade, and other high-end amenities. Future plans for the location include two pad sites that will feature a fast food and a sit-down restaurant.
Site preparation work is underway for the continuation of a separate and protected bicycle path along the north side of High Hill Road that will ultimately connect the path into downtown Swedesboro and Locke Avenue Park.
The project will include a second crosswalk connecting the end of Delaware Avenue to the bike path and park, ultimately providing pedestrian and bicycle access to all Weatherby residents.
This large-scale, comprehensive project to complete Weatherby Town Center will take place over the next 10 years, said Blake. “Woolwich is committed to thoughtful growth. We look at the entire landscape here, while some towns just focus on development and don’t think about protecting the environs, preservations, park development, and other green spaces that enhance living.”
Marino agrees. “Mayors Chila, Maccarone and Schwager were three previous Woolwich Township mayors who left their positive marks when it comes to growth and center-based development,” he continued, “and I am excited to be able to continue that work.”
Marino also points out the financial practicality of the projects. “I’ve been living here my entire life, and know the hurdles the township faces with the tax burden, so it’s exciting to bring ratables on the forefront to bring tax relief to our residents.”
To the northwest of Woolwich Township sits Logan Township. By bordering the Delaware River, Logan Township is in a unique position for development.
Dave Greek, Director of Acquisitions for Greek Development, elaborated. “Logan Township provides the best industrial location in South Jersey because of its proximity to Route 295, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Commodore Barry Bridge, The Delaware Memorial Bridge, The Delaware River, and the city of Philadelphia.”
Greek Development is constructing the Logan North Industrial Park, a 450-acre property located along Route 322 between Routes 295 and 130, north of Racoon Creek. Greek discovered the land in 2016 and purchased it from an industrial waste treatment and disposal company.
Ten warehouses are already planned for the industrial park, and this multi-phase project is expected to be completed in 5-7 years. The conceptual plan calls for the addition of two more traffic lights on Route 322 alongside the industrial development.
Some construction has already begun, with a large increase in activity planned for early 2020, including a massive 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse and a smaller 180,000-square-foot facility on the eastern portion of the site.
Greek anticipates that the types of clients to occupy the buildings will vary, from traditional distribution facilities to retailers, manufacturers, food importers, and food processors.
“There’s a well-established industrial market in this area and there are businesses that are expanding or upgrading their facilities to be more efficient, and we can offer that.”
Greek noted that there is a lot of interest in the food submarket. The site’s close proximity to the Port of Philadelphia, the largest food importer it the nation, gives it a unique advantage.
The Logan North site has the ability to have railroad lines brought in by connecting them to already existing lines. The site’s close distance to the Port also allows for short-distance trucking to the warehouses, saving on fuel costs.
In addition, Greek explained that the site can provide short-term storage or further processing needed for the food importers, as Port facilities do not offer those options.
Greek emphasized that Logan North will create a huge range of jobs, depending on what businesses are brought to the industrial park. But one thing is certain: at least 1,000 jobs will be generated by this project, and as many as 4,000.
Greek and his team are excited about getting the project underway and filling a real need in the submarket. “It’s a good thing for the local community and township. We’re looking forward to putting shovels in the ground.”
Exciting things are also happening in neighboring Swedesboro, including a mixed-use commercial/residential project in the downtown.
If the project progresses as planned, it will include retail space along Kings Highway and approximately 45 higher-end apartments above the retail space. The potential development project will be located in the open lots between the Red Hen and Cheega Funeral Home and include all of the property back to Second Street.
A parking area will be included behind the space. Additionally, a small unit of four townhomes along Second Street is also being considered.
Another project in preliminary stages is a 62-unit affordable housing apartment complex, to be located at the far northwest end of town on the site currently referred to as the “old Del Monte property.”
The borough council has approved the project, and the developer’s application for affordable housing credits is awaiting a decision from the state. If the application is approved, the process will shift to the planning board for site plan approval.
Although there is no set date for breaking ground, one project that has already reached the approval stage in Swedesboro is a 145-townhome development, to be located on Woodstown Road across from the Swedes Plaza.
Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm is excited about a recently acquired Glen Echo Park property that will be modified to include kayak docks and other boat launching docks. The mayor noted that the ultimate goal is to include a pavilion, parking, and a picnic area on the site. He added that there are also plans to refurbish the regular boat launch ramp into Racoon Creek.
“It will be a beautiful spot on the creek for our residents,” said Fromm. “We have a preliminary design, and as a class project, fourth grade students from the General Harker School are helping with the park’s final design.”
Swedesboro was also recently awarded a $5,000 grant by Atlantic City Electric to develop a 9/11 Memorial at the Swedesboro Auction Park (where Food Truck Thursdays are held in the summer). Councilman Sam Casella worked with the 9/11 artifacts organization and secured pieces of the train rails that ran beneath the World Trade Center.
The memorial will be built around those rails, and a landscape architect has been retained to help design the memorial. Assistance will be provided by members of the local VFW. Fromm hopes to unveil the memorial on September 11, 2020.
Fromm is also seeking community volunteers to help with a project to permanently display and highlight the history of the Swedesboro farmer’s auction and the agricultural history of the area. Potentials volunteers should contact the mayor’s office via email, visit borough hall, or contact the historical commission.
Representatives of East Greenwich Township were contacted to comment for this article, but no information was received prior to printing.
By Colleen Woods-Esposito