Cinnaminson will be free of a major blighted property in February when the former Mobil gas station on the corner of Route 130 and Willow Drive will be demolished.
The station—which has been abandoned since 2003—was just recently added to the township’s abandoned properties list, allowing Cinnaminson officials to intervene.
The property owner and attorneys agreed to the demolition Tuesday and have 30 days to make good on their promise.
The Mainline center recently got a facelift and Mainline II is slated for a major one this year.
“To have property that looks like this in the middle of it—clearly it’s not advancing the health, safety and welfare of the township,” said Deputy Mayor Anthony Minniti, who serves as the township’s director of economic development.
The property fit all the criteria to be added to the township’s abandoned properties list, a piece of legislation passed in the early 2000s.
“What the act does is—based on the judgments and examinations reported by a municipal official—the township can take action to remediate blight,” Minniti said. “It gives the municipality many of the same powers that you have in redevelopment, without having to go through a lot.”
Once it’s deemed an abandoned property, the township can demand the site be cleaned, improved or redeveloped.
“It’s been rumored for many years it was going to be redeveloped,” Minniti said. “Now that we’re through developing the big spots [along Route 130], we’re focusing on the little spot properties that are problematic.”
It’s always good when the property owner steps up, Minniti said.
“We don’t want to spend any resources on private property any more than we have to,” he said. “The township is not in the real estate or the redevelopment business. We want to affect all those changes as much as possible by forcing the property owner to do the right thing. That’s always been our approach.”
The township strayed a bit from their normal approach last year when they . The township has plans to landscape it over.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever spent money on an anti-blight initiative,” he said. “Every other time, we’ve utilized the resources of the private sector.”
With the former Mobil getting demolished within the next 30 days, Minniti only hopes the property owner can find a developer to put something there. Calling it a valuable corner, Minniti said it’s a good location for a restaurant or convenience store/gas station combination.
“Cold Stone Creamery was looking at it,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of leads on it but it’s never really pulled together for various reasons.”
The pumps have been removed from the site, Minniti said, but he’s unsure about the tanks. The gas station is slated to be demolished before the end of February.
“I know people have been desirous of seeing it come down. I know I have been desirous,” Minniti said. “We have to keep in mind, it’s private property. It’s current on its taxes and that does afford the owners certain rights. The township has to follow a process—sometimes it doesn’t go quickly. But we’re not letting up when it comes to Route 130 redevelopment.”
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