By: Melanie Zayas, SNJ Today Reporter
SOMERDALE, N.J. — Camden County officials are transforming the site of a former church into a mixed-use development, all while saving some of the original structure.
County officials say they’re preserving a piece of Somerdale with the redevelopment of the former Our Lady of Grace Parish into a mixed-use development.
Gary Passanante, mayor of Somerdale, says they are creating 40 active-adult rental units, 50 luxury apartments, and a community center for residents — all at no cost to the taxpayer.
“We didn’t want to see another church fall into a wrecking ball and they really liked the idea,” says Passanante. “They’ve been very supportive with working with us through the whole process. The town actually bought this property and our developer is buying it from us.”
Angelo Alberto, president and CEO of City Invincible Architecture, says the first phase of the project will begin soon.
“One of the most exciting things as an architect is we saved this,” says Alberto. “It’s a really great piece of architecture — Our Lady of Grace Church — but it is a 1950s sort of brick school house and church that’s going to be saved and repurposed.”
In addition to rental units and apartments, the upper floor of the former church will turn into an Italian restaurant, seating up to 140 guests.
“We’re hoping [Tori’s is going to] open during the first phase later this year, sometime in the third quarter,” says Passanante. “We’re excited it’s [going to] have an outdoor deck for seating and a full-service bar.”
Officials say they estimate the entire project to be completed within two years.