By the turn of the 21st century, BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER was on life support. Its major stores had closed in 1997 and 2001. The virtually vacant mall was demolished in 2004 and replaced by AUDUBON CROSSINGS in 2005. The adjacent Acme-anchored complex was also remodeled and renamed AUDOBON COMMONS.
Original photo from www.bing.com



The AUDOBON CROSSINGS WalMart. Its construction was aided by a 1.2 million dollar "roadway improvement" grant from the Delaware River Port Authority.
Photo from www.loopnet.com


AUDOBON COMMONS houses an Acme Savon supermarket and pharmacy. The store, which opened in 1956 as a Penn Fruit grocery, was designed by master shopping mall architect Victor Gruen.
Photo from http://acmestyleblog.blogspot.com


BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER
Black Horse Pike and West Nicholson Road
Camden County (Borough of Audubon), New Jersey

In the early 1950s, the J.C. Penney chain was based in New York City. The retailer had begun to expand operations from the central city to the suburbs, with early shopping center stores opening at Long Islands LEVITTOWN CENTER (1951), Memphis, Tennessee's POPLAR HIGHLAND PLAZA (1952) and Sacramento's COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE (1952).

These were "dry goods only" operations, encompassing between 8,000 and 60,000 square feet. They carried lines of men's and women's apparel, fashion accessories, linens and the like. With the 1960s came a new concept. J.C. Penney decided to build full-line stores in suburban malls and strip centers, to compete with rivals Sears and Montgomery Ward.

These Penney's locations would offer the aforementioned soft lines, but also sell furniture, sporting goods, paint, hardware, appliances and electronics. The first full-line J.C. Penney opened November 16, 1961 at BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER. This store encompassed 2-levels and approximately 172,000 square feet.

BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER had been developed on 33 acres, located 4.9 miles southeast of Center City Philadelphia, on land that was formerly a part of the Fromm Farm. The 497,000 square foot, open-air mall was designed by Philadelphia's George W. Neff & Associates and consisted of a single level of retail.

In addition to J.C. Penney, the shopping hub was anchored by a 2-level, New York City-based E.J. Korvette "Korvette City", with an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 as its junior anchor. Inline stores included Thrift Drugs, Miles Shoes, Bond Clothes and a Singer Sewing Center.

The complex was soon outclassed by several large interior malls built in its vicinity. These included CHERRY HILL MALL (1961) {4.8 miles northeast, in Camden County}, MOORESTOWN MALL (1963) {7 miles northeast, in Burlington County}, ECHELON MALL (1970) {5.2 miles southeast, in Camden County} and DEPTFORD MALL (1975) {3.9 miles southwest, in Gloucester County}.

BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER persevered, but its Korvettes went bust in 1980. It was soon replaced by a New York City-based Woolco. This turned out to be a poor replacement, as this chain folded in January 1983. In 1985, a Braintree, Massachusetts-based Bradlees discount mart opened, using one floor of the 2-level store space.

This store lasted until March 2001. J.C. Penney went dark in July of the same year. Woolworth had shut down in July 1997. By the early 21st century, there were only twelve BLACK HORSE PIKE stores in operation. Among these were Fashion Bug, First Union Bank, J.R. Dollar Store, East Coast Furniture Liquidators, Radio Shack, Lucky Star Chinese Buffet, a Subway sandwich shop and US Post Office.

The owners of the property, Pennsylvania's Wolfson Verrichia Group, decided that a complete reconstruction of the aging shopping center was in order. An adjacent (110,000 square foot) cluster of stores, anchored by an Acme supermarket, would also be redeveloped.

Original sections of BLACK HORSE PIKE CENTER were razed in 2004, with the groundbreaking for a new complex held September 14. The new AUDUBON CROSSINGS strip center was dedicated October 26, 2005.

The complex encompassed 388,400 leasable square feet and was anchored by Staples, Pep Boys automotive and a 1-level (137,000 square foot) Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Inline stores included Avenue, Payless ShoeSource, Dot's and Deb Shops. The adjacent, Acme-anchored complex was renamed AUDUBON COMMONS. It was re-dedicated, along with AUDOBON CROSSINGS, on October 26, 2005.

Years later, stores such as Lucille Roberts and Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet had been shuttered. The vacant area was gutted and expanded into space for new retailers. A (25,000 square foot) Ross Dress For Less and (23,000 square foot) Marshalls welcomed their first shoppers on October 7, 2017.

Sources:

http://www.departmentstorehistory.net
http://www.boroughofaudubon.com
http://www.retailtraffic.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/42444189@N04/3972393065/sizes/o/in/photostream / "JSFo864"
www.philly.com
http://theretrospect.com/audubon-shopping-centers-opening-wed-p476-1.htm