Hamilton Township wants resident input after township council approved the purchase of the long-vacant Whitehorse Plaza Shopping Center.

The derelict property at 1750 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road (near the intersection with Klockner Road) formerly was home to businesses like ShopRite, H&R Block, and Radio Shack. It has been vacant for more than 15 years, frustrating many. Former mayor Kelly Yaede, in an September 2019 interview with the Hamilton Post, called the property “the bane of my existence.”

Hamilton Township council approved the township’s purchase of Whitehorse Plaza Shopping Center during an Oct. 6, 2020 meeting. (Google maps screengrab.)

But, apparently, Whitehorse Plaza Shopping Center won’t be a bane to the township much longer. Council unanimously voted to acquire the property for $700,000, and redevelop it for public use. The township says the 8.4-acre property had been appraised at nearly $6.5 million. A township press release said the sale is conditional, pending the township’s due diligence to identify potential or existing environmental contamination. Council appropriated an additional $50,000 for the township’s due diligence and closing costs.

The agreement only covers the “upper half” of the plaza. The former Cost Cutters building—now occupied by Snapbox Self Storage—is a separate property and not included in the deal. Development at the “lower half” of the property, at 1722 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, had long been stymied by contamination from a dry cleaners in the mall. The contamination has since been remediated, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and is considered a closed case.

There are no records of known, pending or closed contamination cases at 1750 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, the property purchased by the township.

Should the deal go through, the township will want feedback from residents on what to do with the 8.4 acres. Residents may submit their suggestions via email at mayor@hamiltonnj.com.

“I want to thank council, the property owner and all those involved in coming up with a creative solution to a decades-old problem,” Mayor Jeff Martin said in a statement. “This now puts the township in the driver’s seat on redeveloping the property. While we expect the deal to close by the end of 2020, we want to hear directly from the residents on what they would like to see at the property.”