Officials in Berkeley Township have reason to celebrate.  A long awaited project that would bring a Town Center to the Township is moving forward thanks to an approval from the state.

The New Jersey State Planning Commission has approved the first portion of the plan which would tackle the Beachwood Mall Shopping Center.

It was once home to a supermarket, bowling alley and a Woolworth store.  For the last ten years, it's become more and more run down.  It sits right at the entrance to the Township from the Route 9 side and with each passing year, seems to get worse.

Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato says it's been five years in the making and they can't wait to get started.  He says "now that we have the necessary designation, we are ready to move.  We have been on hold because of the process but can now proceed."

Amato and many other Township officials see it as the perfect way to bring in ratables and jobs to the community.  He says "we are hoping to see some box stores, small businesses, maybe some restaurants on the site."

One of the biggest stumbling blocks will be the area known as Johnson's Pit behind the shopping center.  The site once housed an asphalt factory and there are concerns of soil contamination.  Amato tells WOBM News, they have every intention of cleaning it up first and have already had talks with the State Department of Environmental Protection.

The Berkeley Plaza shopping center, which has ShopRite as the main store, and the land around Frederick Drive and Hickory Lane are designated as the other parts.

View Beachwood Shopping Center in a larger map