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PREIT Pledges $4 Million for Liquor Licenses

Should referendums pass, mall owner says it'll pay for four licenses at $1 million apiece, 'above market value.'

Assuming voters OK the sale of alcohol in Moorestown, the owners of the Moorestown Mall say they’re willing to buy four liquor licenses at $1 million apiece.

Joe Coradino, president of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns the mall, explained the company’s plan in a release issued Thursday.

“We are hopeful that this announcement demonstrates our strong commitment to seeing Moorestown Mall succeed long-term and our seriousness about transforming the mall into an entertainment and dining destination that will enhance the already special quality of life in Moorestown,” he said.

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Coradino further explained the announcement came in response to some of the questions about PREIT’s intentions and speculation that the company would try to lowball the township on the liquor licenses since there wouldn’t be any competition for them.

“We think it puts to rest the question of whether we’re willing to pay market value,” he said. “We’re above market value.”

The release stated PREIT’s $1 million offer represents “the largest amount paid for any liquor license in South Jersey in the last 12 months.”

The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) could not confirm that statement because they don't track the sale of individual liquor licenses. 

In 2006, a restaurant paid $1.6 million for a license at Cherry Hill Mall, which PREIT also owns. But over the last several years, the market for liquor licenses has declined dramatically. According to a report in The Star-Ledger in Dec. 2009, rates were down 30 percent from 2007, and things haven’t gotten much better over the last few years.

Bill Cox, a Moorestown resident who has voiced opposition to ending the township’s dry status, said PREIT’s plan was curious.

“I would be interested in why they’re willing to pay so much when at an auction they could conceivably get licenses for much less,” he said.

When asked about the business sense in paying above market value, Coradino responded, “What message we’re really driving home … is it’s really important that Moorestown Mall get the ability to put restaurants with liquor licenses in there.”

In the release, Coradino also addressed persistent rumors that multiple restaurants could operate off a single license—, except in cases where establishments are contiguous.

“Each restaurant will be required to operate off of a separate license,” he said, “which means Moorestown taxpayers are guaranteed of receiving $4 million in revenue from the sale of the licenses alone.”

While there is nothing legally binding about a press release, Coradino also addressed the question of what would stop he or PREIT from backtracking on the $4 million pledge if/when it comes time to bid.

“The answer to that is I’m an officer and a public trustee of a company and I made a public quote,” he said. “My credibility is much more valuable than trying a bait and switch.”

Coradino had previously explained PREIT’s strategy of purchasing liquor licenses, selling them to restaurants for what PREIT paid, and then buying them back for the same price. PREIT’s pledge would seem to indicate—in the case of the Moorestown Mall—that it has buyers in the wings who would be willing to pay $1 million for a license.

Coradino said he was not ready to divulge that much yet, but indicated PREIT has had conversations with restaurants interested in locating at the Moorestown Mall.

Chris Russell, spokesman for Taxpayer Relief for Moorestown, the citizen arm of PREIT’s campaign, said it’s possible in the coming weeks PREIT would be able to make announcements about those restaurants.

Seth Broder, one of the members of the citizens group, said Coradino’s announcement Thursday was “very exciting … People want answers. This is it.”

Of course, this is all very premature. The matter won’t be settled until Nov. 8, when voters take to the polls to decide: 1) Should Moorestown allow the sale of alcohol? and 2) Should those sales be restricted to indoor shopping areas (i.e. the Moorestown Mall)?

PREIT , with the help of Broder and other supporters, to get those questions on the ballot by circulating petitions. The company has said the addition of alcohol-serving restaurants at the Moorestown Mall would help reinvigorate business.

If the majority of residents vote “yes” to both questions, it’s on township council—or a local ABC board created by town council—to issue and set the minimum price of a liquor license.

“It’s interesting,” Mayor John Button said of PREIT’s pledge, because “they don’t set the price.”

He said council has had absolutely no discussions about setting a price for licenses should the referendums pass.

PREIT will continue on its campaign to educate voters over the next several weeks, with Coradino making an appearance at the Moorestown Business Association’s membership meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss the issue.

“It’s a strategy on their part … to make their case to the voters,” said Cox, whose opinion wasn’t swayed by Coradino’s announcement. “My impression is people will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on a whole variety of factors.”

Ginger Hayes September 14, 2011 at 04:10 PM
The OS issue has been treated more than fairly. What would council have to gain by helping PREIT get liquor licenses? Do you seriously think that they put themselves up to this nonsense of public damnation for what?? a discount card to the mall? Seriously, Cheap Seats, be proud of your ridiculous rhetoric and put your name out there, maybe run for office and show the people how its should be done... There will be no refund check... it most likely will go toward outstanding issues in town. TAXES will never go down or be refunded. The object here is to keep them from going up...
jean September 14, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Downside, since you are so intimately involved with PREIT and their website, why don't YOU post the emails YOU have recieved from their website and why don't YOU provide the "press report" that is the basis for this blog? Hmmmmm? Enlighten us, since we have not gotten responses? The editor of this blog would not produce the emails that serve as the basis for his reporting of so-called facts, so why don't you?
M.Verado September 14, 2011 at 07:26 PM
To the naysayers, I'm still waiting. Give me one verifiable FACT that proves a negative side of liquor at the Mall.
In the Cheap Seats September 14, 2011 at 07:57 PM
You have been given fact after fact and choose to ignore them. Understandably, you are probably involved with PREIT or council in some way. How can any of PREIT claims be verified if they will not have a meeting and answer questions?? At very least can you post the PREIT emails from their website.
jean September 14, 2011 at 08:51 PM
M. Verado, Downside - publish the emails you have received from the "grassroots" website since they seem to be selectively sent. Publish the "press release" that prompted this blog. Publish the financial report that PREIT commissioned to educate TC. We ordinary folk don't have your contacts and influence. We just vote. So help us out - tell us what the insiders get to learn.
Honest Joe Taxpayer September 14, 2011 at 10:33 PM
This question seems to sexy to pass up. Once you approve one " special interest " in Moorestown, you have to appease them all. Your question is rather stupid.
Sip the Root Beer September 15, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Join the fight against liquor Licenses in Moorestown! Vote NO to both liquor referendum questions. Vote NO November 8th!
$4 million September 15, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Join the fight against higher taxes and support new businesses and jobs! Don't hope your taxes don't go up. Do something about it. Vote YES and show the opposition that yes we can!
Sip the Root Beer September 15, 2011 at 11:38 PM
Wow "yes we can" Sounds like a spokesman pushing the liquor licenses is one of the few thatis still supporting our president's slogans. The voters in Moorestown will answer at the polls with "No you won't !" NO to liquor licenses!
Bob Gorman September 16, 2011 at 02:03 AM
33:1-12.31. Acquisition of beneficial interest in more than two retail licenses prohibited On and after the effective date of this act no person, as the same is defined in R.S. 33:1-1, shall, except as hereinafter provided, acquire a beneficial interest in more than a total of two alcoholic beverage retail licenses, but nothing herein shall require any such person who has, on August 3, 1962, such an interest in more than two such licenses to surrender, dispose of, or release his interest in any such license or licenses
M.Verado September 16, 2011 at 03:05 AM
Cheap, Jean, - I would love to provide the emails you speak of, if they exist. I have no connection whatsoever with PREIT or Council regarding liquor. I do however, read and absorb all of the logic and facts that I can, with an open mind. I just don't see it as you do. You obviously think they are lying, and are just greedy. I think they are and have been good neighbors who are trying to survive in a horrible economy. Today, PREIT publically stated just about everything you claim they are lying about. So, where do you go from here?
Booze Dodger September 16, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Bob could you explain the liquor statute that you posted. Just want to see it more clearly, layman's terms.
$4 million September 16, 2011 at 03:25 PM
4 million is 4 million and jobs are jobs. you don't have is anything real to argue against so you have to resort to personal attacks. That's fine. People of town are smart enough to see through that and that is why it is guaranteed to pass
Booze Dodger September 16, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Sounds like a farce? 4 mil or 40k for the license? Let's try again to use the Willingboro example for liquor licenses when redoing that shopping area. Hey that town paid $2500 for the license and a ruby Tuesdays , or should we talk again like the mall employees have said again and again Fine dining = applebees.
M.Verado September 16, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Let's say, PREIT, in the end, does pay to the twp. 4 million for the licenses, and an additional 4 to 5 hundred thousand due to increased property tax value; will some of you finally admit you were incorrect? Or, will you continue to insult them because your can't get past the idea that you believe that liquor is evil, period.
Booze Dodger September 16, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Hey MV you sound too overly confident. I'm not sure many people can be convinced and will gamble their town to vote for liquor licenses. The mall or perhaps town council can pull this off the ballot, right? Or "other action" They have until Sept 28th!
In the Cheap Seats September 17, 2011 at 07:03 PM
Why did Gallo Button and Testa tell those who inquired when they were running for office that they were against liquor? Now they all support it.They have met with PREIT in closed door sessions. This smacks of backroom dealing, no wonder people are skeptical. If liquor is a cure all, they should proudly explain why they support it .
Ginger Hayes September 17, 2011 at 07:19 PM
CS ... how do you know about any secret meetings?? Those meetings never happened.... so tired of your constant nasty lies. If you dont want liquor vote no but stop spreading lies to get others to do so!!! Enough of this mud slinging.
In the Cheap Seats September 17, 2011 at 07:47 PM
John Button admitted the meetings happened "less than several times" to the Courier Post reporter. Please check your facts before you accuse.
Ginger Hayes September 17, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Not closed door or secret or inappropriate as you claim. You are reading between the lines for your own benefit. Also Mr. Button no Mr Testa have said they are for liquor but that the referendum had to be supported. I dont believe ANY of the council members have campaigned for liquor at all. Just because they allowed the referendum doesnt equal support. They were obligated by law because of they were submitted properly. That in NO WAY means they are for or against anything. You should know your facts as you continuously spout nonsense. There is no conspiracy... I really think it is time you come out from behind your fake name and run for office yourself.
In the Cheap Seats September 17, 2011 at 11:43 PM
That is an interesting perspective, but if you ask the reporter doing the story on the liquor license debate for South Jersey magazine, he would tell you the majority of council is on board.
In the Cheap Seats September 18, 2011 at 05:48 PM
South Jersey Magazine (see above). And I suppose you are in favor of allowing into Moorestown anything that is good for the economy?? Because if that were the case I can think of one or two doosies that would be terrific for the economy but would be bad for Moorestown, just as liquor is bad for Moorestown. Liquor licenses are a change to the fundamental character of town and it is a gamble not worth taking!
Ann Bridges October 06, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Just trashed the 4th PREIT maing circular... What is PREIT up to? Yes.... Booze.... Traffic Congestion....... with all these new movies bringing in outsiders to our town ---- have you seen the traffic at Cherry Hill Movies.... Tons of Police... Thousands of out of town youths..... loud as can BE...... Now... add to the mix ............ booze................. How many police will have to be paid overtime...over time.......... over time............. And the traffic........... we can even handle school traffic in Moorestown....... Now multiply this by 10............... Just imagine............................. Moorestown inundated by all these people.................. For what??????????????? I don't buy it.... KEEP Moorestown FREE of traffic, booze, and noise.
Ann Bridges October 06, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Just trashed the 4th PREIT maing circular... What is PREIT up to? Yes.... Booze.... Traffic Congestion....... with all these new movies bringing in outsiders to our town ---- have you seen the traffic at Cherry Hill Movies.... Tons of Police... Thousands of out of town youths..... loud as can BE...... Now... add to the mix ............ booze................. How many police will have to be paid overtime...over time.......... over time............. And the traffic........... we can even handle school traffic in Moorestown....... Now multiply this by 10............... Just imagine............................. Moorestown inundated by all these people.................. For what??????????????? I don't buy it.... KEEP Moorestown FREE of traffic, booze, and noise.
Ann Bridges October 06, 2011 at 09:46 PM
This his how things are done in Moorestown.... Haven't you notice: 1. Town Hall. 2. Stealing the Open Space Money. 3. Managing Strawbridge lake...nada... 4. Boozing it up with PREIT. 5. Poor traffic management in town... 6. Dirty water in public water supply -- let it run five minutes over a white t-shirt...oh, what is that stain doing there?
MotownFan October 06, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Just had a good chuckle on Main St at your expense Cheapy. It seems you are considered quite the loon and most certainly in the minority.
Mall Fan October 06, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Once there was Jekyl and Hyde now there's Ed and Honest Joe and Jeff R and SugarDaddy and now Ann. If only we could keep Moorestown free of idiots, now that would be something special.
MotownFan October 06, 2011 at 10:33 PM
I know what's not good for Moorestown..Your negative fear monger lies. Nothing will change. It is the PEOPLE that make this town great not the lack of liquor..(Well most people anyway)
Quaker Oatmeal October 06, 2011 at 11:35 PM
SJ Mag showed up today and while reading it, the comments from a few locals there have an uncanny resemblance to the comments you continue to make on this blog.....you wouldn't happen to be a local real estate agent too would you?
Bob Dannheim October 07, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Annie, Ol' girl, can you spell PARANOIA? First it's the provence of the Planning Board to assure the traffic around a new commercial property will be adequate to handle the load. Go to a meeting once in awhile, and arm yourself with facts. Radical idea, but. Also, the movie traffic won't be IN the Town, but on the outskirts in the Mall Area. Man, I would say you are the definition of extremism, but I can't as I am championing reasonable discourse. Won't happen in this blog, unfortunately..

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