Moorestown, NJ OKs alcohol sales

MOORESTOWN, N.J. - November 9, 2011

On Tuesday, voters in Moorestown, New Jersey passed a new proposal that would allow some restaurants to start serving alcoholic drinks.

It marks the end of a 96-year ban on sales.

The group that owns the Moorestown Mall was among those pushing to overturn the ban. Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust says the mall could attract more business if it had restaurants that served drinks.

Moorestown Mall has a vacancy rate of about 30 percent.

"We actually want to put them in the mall so that they will be on either side of mall entrance, which will increase cross shopping," said Joseph Coradino of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust.

The measure, which passed 60 percent to 40 percent, will allow liquor sales at full-service mall restaurants only.

PREIT, which owns the Cherry Hill Mall just four miles away, has several large restaurants that serve alcohol. The mall's vacancy rate is just five percent.

Still, it was a tough cell in Moorestown, which has been dry since 1915.

"I wasn't in favor of it but everyone's got their vote. I like the town the way it's been. It's been this way for a hundred years," said John Hinshillwood.

Others, however, can't wait for it to take effect.

"I think it's a great idea. I'm looking forward to having some nice restaurants in the mall like they have in Cherry Hill," said Janet Falcon.

Moorestown Mayor John Button says the town can reap millions of dollars for the sale of up to six liquor licenses for mall restaurants. But, more importantly, he hopes the mall will once again thrive.

"Moorestown Mall is the largest rateable in our town. So, by improving that rateable and driving the value of that rateable up, it will also have positive tax impacts for us," said Button.

Voters had three times previously rejected proposals to allow alcohol sales - most recently in 2007.

Moorestown Mall owners say there is one fine Italian restaurant is already interested in coming to the mall. It is hoped that by Christmas 2012, there will be several restaurants up and running.

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