Editor’s note: Talk of the Town is a new Moorestown Patch feature. Every Friday, local editor Rob Scott will interview someone from Moorestown—politicians, school administrators, volunteers, businesspeople—and ask them a series of questions pertaining to matters local and otherwise. If you have suggestions for potential interviewees, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. This week he sat down with PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) president Joe Coradino after Coradino .
Moorestown Patch: A lot of people are clamoring for some sort of public forum, where they can ask you questions directly or voice their concerns directly. Does PREIT have plans to hold a truly public meeting?
PREIT president Joe Coradino: We’re talking about that right now, and have not reached a conclusion.
Patch: There’s been a lot of vitriolic language regarding the whole issue of the referendums. There’s a lot of people who are very upset. Do you think that’s just a very vocal minority, or are you concerned that it’s more indicative of a larger resistance to your plan?
Coradino: The opposition’s passionate. And I think this is a close race, if you will. And I think education will solve the problem … Are you asking me whether we’ll ever win this 100 to 0? No. There clearly is a small core group of people who are very passionate about this who will never change their mind. Our hope is through education, and putting out correct information that deals with the misinformation, that we can turn around some of the less passionate opponents.
Patch: What do you say to people who argue adding restaurants won’t increase foot traffic to the stores?
Coradino: That flies in the face of that statistic that I showed you (that 70 percent of diners shop on a dinner trip) … You could give an anecdotal answer to that, and the anecdotal answer is, you’re not in a hurry when you go out to eat. You’re in less of a hurry. You drive there, you park your car, you walk inside … you sit down. That’s the very essence of it. Essentially, what it says is someone is making a specific trip to dine. The mall is generating that trip. When they come there, they’re not in a hurry. “Why don’t I pick up while I’m here, Susie needs a …” That’s the anecdotal answer.
Patch: What if the referendums don’t pass? You said you’ll still go forward with the theater?
Coradino: Maybe. That’s my vote. I got a board to answer to. That theater’s going to be a significant investment on our part. That’s my vote.
Patch: A number of people have asked why PREIT couldn’t have waited another year to introduce the referendums, when the five-year window on the previous referendum expires, to pursue this. Why didn’t you?
Coradino: Time is of the essence, with respect to turning around Moorestown Mall. Another year means more vacancy. You don’t want the downward spiral to go too far, cause then it becomes difficult to reverse. So when we found out there was an opportunity this year, we jumped on it.
Patch: What would you say to someone who’s concerned passing a referendum that will allow the sale of alcohol in Moorestown, whether it’s contained at the mall or not, will ruin the “character” of the town?
Coradino: I look at other examples. Cherry Hill (Mall) hasn’t changed Haddonfield, hasn’t changed Collingswood. Plymouth Meeting Mall hasn’t changed Chestnut Hill … It hasn’t changed them. Keep in mind, $13 million leaving Moorestown spent elsewhere.