Brad Ingerman had only office space on his mind when he first looked in Collingswood some two years ago, while searching for a new headquarters for his Cherry Hill development firm. But today, he's in charge of completing the borough's LumberYard project, the residential development that had been stalled by the housing downturn and a controversial downgrading of the municipality's credit last year.
Ingerman, CEO of the development firm of the same name, and local officials met today to formally restart the downtown project, which ultimately will have more than 100 new rental units, the firm's new headquarters and 1,500 square feet of retail space. In an initial phase slated to open this spring, the developer will complete 34 unfinished apartments originally meant to be condominiums.
The mixed-use project, sited alongside a PATCO station, will help complete the kind of transit-oriented commuter housing that has become prominent in northern and central New Jersey. Ingerman said Camden County is rich with apartment complexes, but they are "much more isolated, in a traditional South Jersey way."
"This really is the only one I'm aware of right now that has anything close to this location" near a train station, Ingerman said. "So that's why I think it's immensely popular to most people."
Efforts to complete the Haddon Avenue project, which already has a condominium component, have faced roadblocks in recent years. Following the recession, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Collingswood's credit rating to junk status because of its risk of defaulting on a construction loan that it had guaranteed for the prior developer, Costanza Builders.
The agency restored the borough's previous rating in June, clearing the way for Ingerman to take over. Ingerman said that Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley first connected with his general counsel, a borough resident, by chance last year while he was searching for new office space.
"We had a couple of false starts looking for offices that for one reason or another didn't work out," Ingerman said. "And that's kind of how it started."
Ingerman's roughly 40 employees are expected to move to the new space once it's been completed.