Anthony Minniti was sworn in as mayor of Cinnaminson for the third time Monday night, alongside new Deputy Mayor John McCarthy. Minniti previously served as mayor in 2004 and 2010.
For Minniti, a Cinnaminson native, 2014 is the final year of his fourth term on committee. The veteran committeeman spoke with Patch about what 2014 holds for the township, including the potential for redevelopment along Route 130 and the marketing of the township’s industrial section.
Patch: In terms of the Route 130 corridor, there remain a number of vacancies— Acme, there was some discussion last year regarding the Azalea Farm property. Does the township have any plans for how to market those properties, in order to attract developers, to attract tenants?
Minniti: The first thing we have to do is we have to correct the misinformation. There’s not a lot of vacancies on Route 130. There are, in spots, a vacancy here or there. I believe it’s 1.6 miles in each direction. So you have 3.2 miles of highway space that is probably, on a square footage basis, 95 percent occupied. Though there are very minor in-fill projects here and there, all of our centers are boasting upward of 95 percent occupancy … and the corridor in general is more occupied and more vibrant than at any point in the last 30 years.
The fact that business continues to thrive, and we’re making small steps and small progress on some of these in-fill projects, that’s a testament to our efforts in and of itself. Would we like to see everything occupied? Obviously. That is the goal. But there is only so much a governing body can do. We try to maximize our ability to be involved through creation of redevelopment zones, and use of our economic development committee, and other marketing efforts we have. We need to be able to bring property owners together with the right tenants, and create the environment for the right deal to be made. And we’ve had tremendous success doing that. There’s been well over $110 million in investment that’s gone into Route 130 since we began our redevelopment effort.
Our plan is to continue to use the lessons that we’ve learned in making Route 130 a success and apply those efforts to these few smaller parcels.
Patch: Speaking of redevelopment, another area of interest in that regard is the industrial zone. That was something committee was looking at at the beginning of 2013, making some headway there. Could we see progress in 2014?
Minniti: We tasked the planning board with examining two redevelopment areas. One, of course, was within our Route 130 corridor and business district, which was passed unanimously by the planning board. We also asked them to look at the industrial area, and they’ve taken great strides toward completing their work in determining the areas in need of redevelopment in the industrial area. I think you’re going to see that completed within the first few months of 2014.
One of the things Cinnaminson needs to do is differentiate itself from its neighbors. The river communities have a glut of warehouse distribution. What we don’t have is modern manufacturing and technology. And Burlington County has a tremendous military economy. We have the joint base. And Cinnaminson has the further advantage of also being close to Philadelphia. Hopefully the planning board will establish the area in need of redevelopment, and then we can work on zoning within that area to try to market Cinnaminson as a hub for military support, technology and manufacturing. It separates us from everyone around us, and it gives us the added ability, not only to try to bring businesses in that will support the joint base—it also gives us the opportunity to be the affordable alternative to Philadelphia. Philadelphia has a repressive tax system and bureaucratic structure. They can come right over to Cinnaminson and have all the geographic advantages they would have in Philadelphia.
You’re going to see an aggressive campaign in that direction. We’ve been working on the marketing for probably about seven or eight months. That’s something we’re looking forward to in 2014.
Patch: Would you say redeveloping the industrial zone is more pressing than the Route 130 corridor?
Minniti: Absolutely … There’s not a lot more left that we can do on Route 130. We’ve maximized development. Every one of our centers has been improved. The priority now is in the industrial area, which was really the main ratable base of the town in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They’re gone now. We need to maximize our return on that. And we’re confident that the military support, manufacturing and technology sector is where the future is. To build a few million square feet of that industry down in our industrial area, which we should be able to do, would be tremendous for the township from a financial standpoint. Not to mention the jobs that it would provide.This is part one of a two-part interview. Check Saturday's newsletter for part two of our talk with Mayor Minniti.