By Jenn Lucas

South Jersey Local News /The Central Record

Posted June 28, 2016

MEDFORD >> A shopping center in the heart of the area will be getting a facelift and new tenants to bring it in to the 21st century while keeping an old family institution alive.

The Village of Taunton Forge has had good and bad times since it was opened in 1978 by Joseph DePetris featuring retailers like Shop N Bag and Eckerd Drugs. After a different supermarket left a few years ago, the center has been in a lull until now, according to David DePetris, son of Joseph, who along with his brother Jim, are planning the redevelopment of the Village of Taunton Forge.

“A center has a life cycle,” he said. “It was really strong in its early years and it was THE stop, with a toy shop, bookstore and boutiques. Now with big box stores and bigger supermarkets, there is a change. We want to bring it back to its glory days.”

A few of those retailers still reside there, like Fond Memories, the Ruth’s Hallmark, David’s Fortune Cookie and Medford Eye Care, and they will still have a home in the center when it undergoes a major renovation over the coming years. One of the first things that needs to be done, David DePetris said, is to increase visibility while still maintaining the rural feel of the area.

“We need to improve the visibility from the road,” he said. “How are they going to find you if they can’t see you?”

To attract major chains and bigger retailers there are certain criteria that need to be met and there are rules about visibility, he said. Mom-and-pop stores, which used to fill the plaza, usually don’t have the same strict requirements.

“We love trees, but need open visibility,” Jim DePetris said. “People need to see there is a project here and it will help boost bringing in new business.”