Developers presented a more refined plan for remaking the Cheltenham Mall on Monday, an open-air mix of stores and restaurants with glass facades, some brick and metal trim.
"We're trying to work with a combination of materials to give it a warmer look," architect Jerry K. Roller told the Planning Commission.
The new shopping center will be called Greenleaf at Cheltenham, following some of Sun Equity Partners' other projects, Greenleaf at Delran and Greenleaf at Howell in New Jersey.
Primary tenants, including Target, Home Depot, Burlington Coat Factory and ShopRite, are expected to remain, while most of the smaller stores inside the mall are expected to close by Dec. 31.
A swath of the enclosed mall will be gutted to allow for a street, parking spaces, a courtyard and some outdoor seating.
Developer Charles Monnino said negotiations are ongoing and he could not name any of the potential new tenants, but flatly rejected a rumor that Best Buy and other big-name retailers had already signed on. A brochure on Sun Equities' website does identify L.A. Fitness as one of the new tenants, a brand hinted at but not named in previous discussions.
The Planning Commission strongly urged the developers to add more sidewalks or safe pedestrian access to get from one side of the complex to the other.
"There are a lot of people using this shopping center who don't drive," said commission member Eric Leighton.
A key area of concern was Shoppers Lane, where residents of the adjacent apartment complex already walk in the street, poorly lighted and uphill, to get to Target and ShopRite. Attention was also drawn to the north and west sides of the complex, where buses unload passengers who cross Cheltenham and Ogontz Avenues to access the stores.
The plan is expected to go before the township commissioners Dec. 16 or Jan. 20.
"We would look for getting started shortly after approval early in the year, hopefully if things fall into place being able to reopen before Black Friday next year," said Monnino.