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Thread: New Jersey Investing in Camden

  1. #61

    Default Little progress seen in Camden

    Camden's direction up in air

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    By ALAN GUENTHER
    Courier-Post Staff

    CAMDEN

    The hopeful and the hopeless live side by side all over Camden.
    Four years after the state government took control of America's poorest city, it's hard to tell which way the city is going.


    Dana, a 28-year-old prostitute, will tell you that little progress has been made in her neighborhood.


    "They're spending all this money. I ain't seen it. Ain't nothing happened around here," she said as she cradled her smoke-scarred crack pipe in the palm of her hand.


    It was a warm afternoon, and Dana was dressed in a loose-fitting white top, dark pants and spiky heels. A police car drove past at about 25 mph with the windows up. Tiny blue plastic baggies littered the ground near her feet.


    The house behind her -- like thousands of dilapidated homes in Camden -- had the sour smell of filth, neglect and the pungent odor of old cat urine.
    In a long and rambling conversation, Dana talked about how her mother had abandoned her at an early age and how "I began tricking on the streets when I was 12 years old to get my high."
    But if she wanted help, a different way of looking at life stood right across the street.


    If you stop by The Sword of the Spirit Christian Church on any given night, you might hear the immaculately dressed Rev. Willie Anderson telling his parishioners there's no need to be ashamed of money, no reason they can't find a life of comfort and success.


    Anderson has spent countless hours at his church. And as head of Camden Churches Organized for People, he represents 30 city churches serving 10,000 people from all over the South Jersey area.


    He knows there are prostitutes operating right across from his church. He says, ruefully, "They have quality-of-life issues." But like Dana, Anderson is also disappointed by the amount of change in the city since the state took control of the local government in 2002.


    "All of us here thought there would have been more accomplished than this by now," he said.


    Great -- and, as it turns out, unrealistic -- predictions were made on July 1, 2002 when the state Legislature voted to make Camden the only city in America where the right to govern themselves has been taken away from local residents.


    A state-appointed chief operating officer, with czar-like powers over every board and agency, was put in charge. Randy Primas, a former mayor, was given the $175,000-a-year job.


    But turning around Camden has been like stopping a runaway freight train in its tracks. It has been harder, it is taking longer and it is taking more money and more effort than anyone anticipated.


    In recent months, the effort to rebuild the city has gone off track. Primas left his job on Dec. 8 -- a full year before the end of his term -- as state and federal grand juries continue to investigate how some of the $175 million in state money committed to Camden's recovery has been spent so far.


    Gov. Jon S. Corzine has selected an 18-member committee to conduct a national search to replace Primas for the next five years. On Dec. 14, the governor named retired Superior Court Judge Theodore Z. Davis to run the city, on an interim basis, for the next four months.
    By all accounts, the agenda for action is crowded with unfinished business. The state takeover legislation set lofty goals, and the jury is still out about whether progress has been made in the following areas:
    Schools.



    The 17,000-student school system is mired in scandal as law enforcement officials investigate whether administrators falsified test scores and college transcripts to make it seem Camden's students were doing better than they were. In addition, the state promised to spend $427 million to build 16 new schools but, to date, not a single new school has been built.


    Redevelopment. Procedural errors by city attorneys stalled two $1 billion-dollar redevelopment plans in courts. Stiff community opposition threatens other plans.


    Housing. Nonprofit groups say they want to rehabilitate hundreds of dilapidated homes, but the city won't let them. Hundreds of homes are tied up in the redevelopment plans that are stuck in court.


    Police. Ten years ago, a harshly critical state audit said the city's police force was ineffective and improperly deployed. Union contracts require the same number of police be on the streets at all hours of the day regardless of the level of crime. A decade after the audit, Arturo Venegas was appointed to lead the police force and began making changes.


    Corruption. Three of the last six mayors have been jailed on corruption charges. In July, the drumbeat of corruption continued as longtime Councilman Ali Sloan El, who called himself "the people's champ," pleaded guilty in federal court to taking more than $36,000 in bribes.


    But the start of the new year may bring some good news.


    The 300 dilapidated apartments at Roosevelt Manor, near South 8th Street and Carl Miller Boulevard, may soon be torn down.


    To Terrence Young, who owns a store across the street from Roosevelt Manor, the change has been a long time coming.


    The authority spent $3 million three years ago to fix the roofs and heating systems in the apartments. But then, 14 months ago, the authority changed its mind.


    The apartments were abandoned. Residents were relocated. And Young's once-thriving grocery store business faced hard times.
    "It seems like they didn't have an idea of what they were doing," Young said as he walked beside the vacant, vandalized apartments.
    More than 1,000 people were removed from Roosevelt Manor and relocated to other public housing throughout the city. Plans were made to tear down Roosevelt Manor and rebuild new housing in its place.


    And then, for more than a year, nothing happened. The windows of the vacant apartments were boarded up. But as Young showed during a recent tour of the area, the boards from every window, from every apartment, have been kicked in. A fence put up to keep vandals out has been trampled. The apartments have been looted. From the sidewalk, holes are visible where fixtures have been ripped from the walls.


    Housing authority Executive Director Maria Marquez says she is aware of the problem and vows the buildings will be torn down before the end of January.


    The original bids for construction and demolition came in too high, she said. Now, finally, the authority is ready to act.


    "We tried to contain it," she said of the vandalism.


    But she did not have enough staff to watch the buildings around the clock. Police patrol the area and have made arrests, but she acknowledges the vacant apartments are an eyesore she will soon fix.
    Young hopes change comes quickly.


    "We're just hanging on," he said.


    If the apartments are really torn down and new homes are built to take their place, things may finally improve, he said, both for him and for the city.


    Reach Alan Guenther at (856) 317-7871 or aguenther@courierpostonline.com

  2. #62

    Default

    ^ In the grips of the Universe.

    Much too big for anyone to do anything about...

  3. #63

    Default

    If Sears building stays, Campbell's says it might go

    Camden's quandary could come up for a vote tonight. The firm wants to expand.

    By Dwight Ott and Troy Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writers


    APRIL SAUL / Inquirer Staff Photographer
    The old Sears building , off Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden.
    The city's Historic Preservation Commission has recommended
    that it not be demolished, and the Planning Board may vote tonight.

    Camden has a proud history as a center of commerce and industry, but in recent decades the city has known little good economic news.So it's not without some painful irony that the city now is faced with the choice of preserving the past or, potentially, securing the future.

    Camden leaders must decide whether to tear down the old Sears, Roebuck & Co. building - a national historic landmark - to make way for an expanded Campbell Soup Co. headquarters.

    If they save the Sears building, they risk losing Camden's last Fortune 500 company at a time when the soup giant is willing to invest millions in the moribund city.

    "If the demolition of the Sears building does not take place, we will be forced to evaluate all our options - one of which is, yes, to move," Anthony J. Sanzio, Campell's director of corporate communications, said last week.

    In place of the Sears building, a fixture on the Admiral Wilson Boulevard since 1927, Campbell's proposes a $72 million building that would expand its corporate headquarters and a sprawling office park that might attract jobs to Camden.

    "It puts the city in a dilemma. It's a choice between history and progress," said Mayor Gwendolyn Faison. "I believe any historical monument should continue to have impact. . . . Most historical sites are museums for tourists, something of value, not ugly and vacant and not producing."
    But, so far, Camden has sided with the past. The city's Historic Preservation Commission, which has a nonbinding advisory role in the process, voted unanimously earlier this month to oppose demolition of the Sears building.

    Tonight, the issue lands before the city Planning Board. It's unclear whether the board will vote on the matter. Even if the board agrees to raze the building, the plan still would have several more hurdles to clear.

    Complicating matters, businessman Ilan Zaken told the Historic Preservation Commission that he would like to purchase the Sears building and make it the headquarters for two of his clothing retail businesses, one of which is Dr. Denim.

    He said he has 20 retail locations in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.
    "I'm looking for a warehouse and offices," said Zaken, under questioning from his attorney. "I'm aware of all of the issues with the Sears building."
    Faison said she was willing to consider Zaken's offer, but she had concerns.

    "Is Dr. Denim really serious?" she asked. "If he's serious, why is it just coming up now?"

    At the Planning Board meeting, to be held in City Council chambers in City Hall, Campbell's officials are expected to argue, again, that the Sears building is standing in the way of its proposed 80,000-square-foot office building.

    Or, as Campbell's attorney, Ed Sheehan, told the historic commission, "if that building stands, those buildings will not rise."

    Historic commission member Paul Schopp, a historian for an environmental planning firm, expressed displeasure at Campbell's "all or nothing" approach to the problem.

    "You're saying play our way or we'll pick up and go home. Compromise and negotiations form the basis of our society," said Shopp. "Demolition should always be viewed as the last resort."

    Sanzio, Campbell's spokesman, said after the commission's vote that the company was hoping for better luck before the Planning Board.

    "We remain optimistic," he said. "The $72 million expansion is a great benefit far outweighing the Sears building."

    Campbell Soup, which was founded in Camden and has remained there for nearly 140 years, still plays a major role in the city's economy. The company pays $1.3 million annually in lieu of taxes, donates more than $1 million to local charities, and provides 1,700 jobs, though critics complain few are held by Camden residents.

    But, like most manufacturers who once made Camden a boomtown, Campbell's closed its Camden factory, more than a decade ago.

    The expanded headquarters would deepen Campbell's roots and reduce fears that the company might leave the city.

    In February, with Gov. Corzine in attendance, Campbell's officials announced that the new complex would be built on 110 acres that included the Sears structure and the old Canal Liquor store parking lot.
    They said at the time that construction on the new site would begin this month and be completed in November 2008.

    But last week the forces of opposition seemed to be rising to protect the building that was once the retail center of Camden - a place where shoppers from the city and surrounding suburbs bought everything from washing machines and lawn mowers to clothing and holiday toys.

    The Sears building, renowned for its Greek Revival-style architecture, was on the cutting edge of retail in its day - built outside of the crowded downtown, with plenty of parking for the new, automotive world.

    Similar Sears sentimentalism greeted former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman when she tried to tear down the Sears building in 1999 as part of a makeover of the Admiral Wilson Boulevard for the Republican National Convention. A number of other commercial properties were acquired and demolished to provide an unobstructed view of the Cooper River, but the Sears Building remained.

    Supporters such as former building owner Mark J. Willis and civic activist Frank Fulbrook make the same argument they made then - that the building is of historic value to Camden and is still capable of bringing jobs to the city.

    Sears closed the store in 1971, when it opened a new one in Moorestown.
    Historian Howard Gillette, author of a book about the city called Camden After the Fall, said it would be a sign of "how capitalism ran over history" if the Sears building were demolished.

    Contact staff writer Dwight Ott at 856-779-3844 or dott@phillynews.com.


    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/busin..._might_go.html

  4. #64

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    For those who have never seen Camden, a few dozen photos from
    Skyscraper Page:

    http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/...threadid=19761

    http://www.skyscraperpage.com/forum/...threadid=19805
    Zippy- Since these links are obsolete, is another way access to the photos of the Sears Building? The Inquirer's photo didn't do the building justice.

  5. #65

    Default

    That was 3 1/2 years ago; I don't remember if the building was included.

    What am I, the concierge?

    Search.

  6. #66

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    Zippy, I thought you knew my posting style well by now. Of course I did a site-wide search -- and having come up with nothing, I wanted to know if somebody still had the 3.5-year-old pics.

    My general web searches yielded a few good (Camden) Sears Bldg. pics that I bookmarked. Maybe I'll post them.. depends on whether anybody really cares about the place.

  7. #67
    King Omega XVI OmegaNYC's Avatar
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    Default

    ^^^ ahhh... I kinda care...

  8. #68
    The Dude Abides
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    In Camden, Campbell Co. Says It May Go if Sears Building Stays

    By KAREEM FAHIM
    Published: June 5, 2007

    CAMDEN, N.J. — For decades after it was built in 1927, shoppers drove to the Sears, Roebuck & Company store on Admiral Wilson Boulevard just beyond the center of town. A colonnaded temple to both commerce and the automobile, the store, in the classical revival style, had a lot with parking spaces for about 600 cars.


    The former Sears, Roebuck
    building in Camden is a designated
    historic site, but the door has
    been ripped off and the interior
    is rotting. The Campbell Soup
    Company says it interferes with
    its redevelopment plans.


    The Campbell Soup Company
    wants to demolish a 1927
    building that housed a Sears,
    Roebuck & Company store in
    Camden, N.J., and use the
    site to upgrade its headquarters,
    pictured here, and create
    an office park.


    But in 1971, as the middle class fled the city, the store closed, and reopened at a mall in nearby Moorestown. In the years afterward, most of the drivers who stopped by this despondent stretch of freeway were visiting seedy strip joints. And the old Sears building went on to become a car dealership, then an office. Today it is vacant, vandalized and in need of repair.

    Now, amid an effort to revive a city mired in a crippling cycle of crime and unemployment, the Campbell Soup Company, Camden’s longtime and most prominent corporate resident, has proposed expanding its presence and transforming the area where the empty store sits into an office park.

    The soup company is prepared to spend $72 million to improve its headquarters, and has also promised to help lure developers to an adjacent office park with the help of $26 million in state funds. But the company’s pledge comes with one nagging caveat: The Sears building, which is listed on state and national historic registries, must come down. If not, Campbell Soup, which has been an enormous presence in the city since 1869, may abandon Camden and go elsewhere.

    Thousands of the city’s residents worked at the factory on the Delaware River, producing the famous condensed soup invented by John T. Dorrance, until the plant closed in 1990. The company still employs 1,200 workers at its corporate headquarters here, and its soup cans, which captured Andy Warhol’s fascination with the American marketplace, are visible everywhere in this city — on wall murals, hanging in courthouses and, most prominently, on the front of a downtown baseball stadium.

    Leveraging that reputation, the soup company says it could lure investors to the office park. But the Sears building, with its wide footprint, would thwart the effort, blocking the views of all the proposed development, including a view of the Campbell headquarters, the company said.

    “If you’re leaving Philadelphia, you would like that office park to be visible for potential occupants,” said Anthony J. Sanzio, a Campbell Soup spokesman. “This structure is completely inconsistent with what one would expect in a 21st-century office park.”

    In mid-May, the city’s planning board narrowly approved the soup company’s application to raze the yellow brick building. Local leaders, ranging from the mayor to the heads of community groups, said it was important for Camden — one of the nation’s poorest cities, according to recent census figures and studies — to look forward, especially when the past and the present look the way the old Sears building does.

    As if to emphasize that point, in the past few days the front door of the building has been ripped down, exposing the building’s moldy innards.

    Those opposed to the demolition are a small but committed group that includes a former owner of the building, preservationists, a local activist, a Camden historian and the head of the local N.A.A.C.P. branch. They have asked questions about a city’s connection to its past, and about the influence of corporations on development.

    “I’m not submitting to blackmail from anyone,” said Frank Fulbrook, an activist here who has a filed a lawsuit against the soup company as well as the heads of the local planning board and the redevelopment agency, saying the planning board violated procedures when it approved Campbell’s demolition plans.

    “I want Campbell’s to stay, but I’m not going to beg them,” said Mr. Fulbrook, who owns a few properties in Camden.

    For the city, the importance of the company — the only Fortune 500 corporation operating here — is hardly disputed. In fact, it is spelled out in the development agreement for the proposed 110-acre office park, which notes that the soup company is one of the largest taxpayers in Camden and contributes millions to local charities.

    In its odd but not-so-subtle vernacular, the agreement spells out the stakes: It says that if the soup company “were to relocate its headquarters out of the city, it is probable that these numerous public benefits derived by citizens of the city, county and the State of New Jersey would be severely reduced if not eliminated.”

    The importance of the faded Sears building, surrounded by abandoned buildings, overgrown lots and roads riddled with potholes, is less clear. But Paul W. Schopp, a consultant hired by the building’s previous owner — who in 2000 wrote the successful application for its designation as a historic site — sees it differently.

    Mr. Schopp said that Charles W. Leavitt, a New York landscape architect and planner, conceived the whole area in the 1920s around what was then called Bridge Boulevard, as what he hoped would be Camden’s civic center. And Mr. Leavitt insisted that the architects design the Sears building accordingly.

    “He designated it in the classical revival style, as an interpretation of the City Beautiful movement,” Mr. Schopp said. “They acquiesced.”

    The architects, Nimmons, Carr and Wright, had designed other Sears stores, including landmark buildings in Chicago and Boston that have been preserved. Their Camden store, a few miles from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge linking Camden to Philadelphia, was a destination for drivers at a time when America’s love affair with the automobile was blossoming. In the 1930s and ’40s, families from southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania flocked to the nation’s first drive-in theater, on nearby Crescent Boulevard, and to the Whoopee Coaster, a Depression-era amusement for automobiles and passengers on undulating wooden tracks.

    “There was a drive-in boxing arena, and White Tower, a drive-in restaurant,” Mr. Schopp said. “At one time, the Admiral Wilson Boulevard was a source of car culture, perhaps more so than Los Angeles.”

    The supporters of Campbell’s plans have focused not only on the importance of keeping the food giant in the city, but also on picking battles wisely as the city makes hard choices.

    “Look, if it was a beautiful building downtown, that would be one thing,” said Caren S. Franzini, the chief executive of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. “It creates new tax ratables in the city. It enhances a neighborhood in terms of new development. It provides opportunities for new jobs for Camden residents. Those are all fantastic things.”

    In addition, Thomas P. Corcoran, the president of the Cooper’s Ferry Development Association, which focuses on the city’s waterfront, said that the soup company’s demands, despite what detractors say, were not unreasonable. “I think if I were Campbell’s, I would insist on the same thing,” he said of the building’s demolition. “They’ve got to present a vision of the future.”

    The shaping of that future is still bitterly contested in Camden. Some opponents of the demolition have also complained about the proposed office park, saying it will create an enclave of nonresident workers rather than employing locals.

    They have urged the city to take a closer look at other options, like the bid by the businessman Ilan Zaken, who is trying to create an outlet of his Dr. Denim clothes store in the old Sears building. “It would employ more than 100 people, most of them Camden residents,” Mr. Zaken said, adding that he hoped the office park would be built.

    There have been other recent attempts to demolish the building, including an unsuccessful effort in 2000 by Gov. Christie Whitman, who sought to clean up Admiral Wilson Boulevard, which had become an eyesore.

    For now, Mr. Fulbrook’s lawsuit and several other obstacles could get in the way of the Campbell plan. The state’s Historic Sites Council will make a recommendation to the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection for a final decision. And the Camden City Council may still have to vote on parts of the plan.

    Howard Gillette Jr., a historian and a professor at Rutgers-Camden, who opposes the demolition, said: “That building is one of the few links to the old city. Camden was once the height of the region, and it’s been severed from the region. You need lines of continuity.”

    But underscoring the problem, he added, “The presence of Campbell Soup is one of those lines.”

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  9. #69
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Unhappy Camden still under state control.

    State maintains control over Camden

    by Associated Press Sunday September 16, 2007, 1:38 PM

    Gov. Jon Corzine today extended a state takeover of Camden, saying the troubled city had made progress but more work needs to be done.

    "In the past five years, we have taken important steps toward a brighter future for the City of Camden and its people," Corzine said in a statement. "But it is clear that we have plenty more to do."

    The governor signed legislation extending certain provisions of the Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act, the law passed in 2002 authorizing the Camden takeover. The extension will be in effect for five years.

    As part of the 2002 legislation, the state took over many of the powers of the local government and school board; the legislation passed today will retain the governor's veto power over school board decisions.

    The legislation also extends funding for economic-recovery programs. Since 2002, the state has been paying for major infrastructure upgrades and subsidizing major expansions of Camden's hospitals.

  10. #70

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    I wonder why there is not any new Buildings or anything lately. Does it even have a Airport

  11. #71
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    No JC it doesn't. It is across from Philly so it uses Philly airports. The city is just distressed and hasn't found any new economic base.

  12. #72
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Arrow Cmaden Improving Slowly

    Report: Camden improving with state aid, but more work remains

    by South Jersey News Online
    Tuesday March 11, 2008, 9:23 PM

    By GEOFF MULVIHILL
    Associated Press Writer

    CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- From the new law school building going up on Rutgers University's campus here to duplexes under construction amid boarded up homes, there are signs that the city is changing five years after an infusion of state money began.

    On Tuesday, a report hailed progress on the state's efforts to transform a city that has long been among the nation's poorest and most violent. But officials say there is still much to be done.

    One key area for improvement: Finding a way to keep middle-class residents from moving to the suburbs. For decades, as residents have gotten a toehold on financial security, the first thing many of them have done is think about getting out.


    (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
    New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine smiles as he walks from the new Waterfront Technology Center after speaking to a gathering in Camden, N.J., Tuesday March 11, 2008, about the successes in the revitalization of Camden under the state's stewardship."They're beaten down," said Theodore Z. Davis, the city's state-appointed chief operating officer. "They're so wound up in escaping."

    Five years ago, the state government took the unusual step of trying to rescue Camden from its despair by committing $175 million to city development. More than one-fourth of that money was designated to help pay for expansions of the Camden's existing health and educational institutions.

    State money also has helped pay to expand the Adventure Aquarium, run job training programs, upgrade a crumbling century-old sewer system and to give residents loans to fix up their homes that are forgiven if they stay put for five years.

    The money came with a catch: The governor gets veto power of actions by the city council and school board.

    Officials say the transformation they're trying to spur in Camden will take many years, even decades. But they are optimistic.

    "We are nowhere near the end of the road," Gov. Jon S. Corzine said. "We are on the pathway."

    On Tuesday, representatives of the educational and medical institutions released a report that finds they have done well over the first five years of the transformation effort with the $47 million allocated to their institutions.

    So far, they have spent more than $32 million of the state money on expansion projects, matching it with $314 million from other sources.

    "Very few times have I seen investments where each dollar gets a $10 return," said Corzine, who was in Camden Tuesday.

    The institutions, which include Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Rutgers University and Camden County College, say they now employ 1,250 Camden residents -- an increase of 31 percent in five years.

    Part of the hope of the overhaul of the city was that the public spending would attract private investment.

    Davis, a retired judge appointed to oversee the city government and redevelopment, says he gets calls regularly from private developers. But so far, not many have followed through.

    A few major projects have been announced to great fanfare, but have not panned out.
    One called for redeveloping the Cramer Hill neighborhood with thousands of new homes, retailers and even the city's first golf course. Residents of the area said they were not properly included and fought back. Last year, the developer, Raleigh, N.C.-based Cherokee Investment Partners, said it was abandoning its efforts.

    Last year, the Campbell Soup Co., the only Fortune 500 company with a headquarters in the city of under 80,000 near Philadelphia, announced plans to expand its headquarters and build an office park nearby.

    Those plans were stalled by a lawsuit. Last month, Campbell announced it would remain in Camden and move ahead with its expansion, though the company scaled back plans for the office park.

    In North Camden on Tuesday afternoon, 72-year-old Jessie Shaw said she expected more people to move into the city.

    "People will come back," said Shaw, who is retired from a job assembling fluorescent lights. "They'll want low mortgages and come back."

    But not everyone wants to stay.

    Four years ago, Anissa Bush fell on hard times, separated from her husband and moved with her three daughters from suburban Pennsauken to her mother's home in Camden. She's since got a new job and reconciled with her husband, and says her family is financially secure. Now they are looking to buy a house -- in Pennsauken.

    City Council president Angel Fuentes said Tuesday that it's up to officials like him to persuade people who earn enough to live elsewhere that the city has a future.

    "We're saying, 'Stay. Camden is getting better,'" Fuentes said. "'We need you.'"

    ------

    On the Net:

    Camden Economic Recovery Board: http://www.camdenerb.com

  13. #73

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    I took a trip down to the camden waterfront to the aquarium and i was pleasently suprised and excited to see the "Victor lofts". I researched whats going on in the area.. sadly with the usual corruption, the projects for the Victor Radio condos has stalled... worse yet the first business to open at victor lofts are closing. If anyone can fill me in on whats going on in Camden.... as the view into philly was amazing


    http://chewru.com/lariveria-closes-doors/

    La Riveria Closes Doors; Camden Economy Axes a Favorite

    Posted by Chewru Guru
    June 17, 2008

    I was upset to be notified today that one of our highest-ranked Italian & Pizza restaurants had closed its doors as of just a few days ago. This is really a shame and big loss for the Camden waterfront area that is trying so hard to rebuild itself. Thank you to all the kind people at La Riveria Tuscany Bistro who treated us so nicely and consistently made delicious food. They really did have some superb stuff. Hopefully we’ll see them bounce back on their feet and reopen shop somewhere in the future.
    CAMDEN — In what could be a sign that the planned future for the redevelopment of Camden’s waterfront may be occurring too slowly to succeed, another dining establishment in The Victor loft apartment building closed Tuesday.
    The fourth restaurant to go out of business at The Victor in approximately three years, La Riviera Tuscany Bistro opened to fanfare early last year. City boosters applauded one of the initial full-scale eateries to hang a shingle in the residential building that’s hailed as the first living facility able to attract upper-middle class professionals to Camden.
    As one of the few places to eat within a several-block radius, it drew a regular lunch crowd made up largely of Victor tenants, Rutgers University students, police officers, paramedics, and others who worked in the area.
    But last week a hand-written sign appeared in La Riviera’s door announcing the bistro was closed for the day.
    On Tuesday, that sign was replaced with a commercial-grade “closed” sign.
    “It’s a really sad thing for the neighborhood,” said Victor tenant Denise Spaulding.
    “They had the freshest bruschetta around. And they did a great job of catering parties.”
    While La Riviera owner Sal Pietrangeli did not return calls seeking comment, other merchants there speculated on the the closures.
    “There aren’t enough people down here to make any money,” said Joe Papa, owner of Miss G’s convenience store, which shares an entryway with La Riviera. “When the university students leave for the summer, business falls out of bed.”
    It’s a complaint heard often among pioneering business owners at The Victor, who worry privately about their own ability to keep their doors open in a city where promise and potential don’t always add up to profit.
    “We need more people down here,” said Sam Sarin, who owns The Victor’s Pub, a spacious resto-bar that faces Camden’s entertainment district.
    Papa insists the luxury lofts’ owner, Philadelphia developer Carl Dranoff, is partially to blame for the lack of foot traffic.
    “There are all of these development projects that haven’t come to fruition,” Papa said, referring to Dranoff’s plans to build or convert three major residential developments in the neighborhood.
    The first project — The Radio Lofts, used as a strong incentive for investors like Papa and Sarin — is already several years behind schedule.
    Dranoff didn’t return calls to his office seeking comment, but Tom Corcoran, president of the Cooper’s Ferry Development Association, explained that The Radio Lofts’ progress was stalled by state environmental inspectors and should get under way later this month.
    He added Dranoff’s proposed 1200-unit mixed use “village” designed for the lots adjacent to The Victor should begin construction in 2010.
    Yet, Corcoran too, empathizes with the merchants’ plight.
    “We don’t yet have a critical mass of people living close to The Victor to sustain a good dinner crowd, (But) there’s no magic wand.”
    Remaining owners are cautiously hopeful that ongoing construction of a neighboring bank and two offices, plus other developments in the works like a Hilton Garden Inn, will provide them with a fresh supply of patrons.
    Papa, meanwhile is already feeling the pain.
    He estimates his revenues have fallen 30
    in the week since La Riviera stopped serving.
    “Sal’s was a destination. People bought food from him then came to me to buy soda, to buy cigarettes, to buy chips. Business picked up for a while,” he said.
    “Now we’re back to where we were, which is basket case.”

  14. #74

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    Brad and Angelina are considered sexy. Sex sells; ugliness doesn't.

    Perhaps a better question to be asking is why they're spending all their time and resources helping out people in Namibia, while there are plenty of people here that could use some assistance.
    You are a shallow person.

  15. #75

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Funky View Post
    I know that in my own city, I've tried to get to city hall meetings and listen in one how things are done, but they were closed and I kept getting meeting dates messed up....


    PS, these pics are from www.urbandecay.ca
    Hi DrFunky! I remember your posts Niagara Falls, New York. The Cities of Camden and Niagara Falls both need more awareness and cleaning up, plus honest government officials rather than corrupt ones i.e. VINCENZO V. ANELLO.

    Both cities, but more so in Camden, need investment in order to spur an economic recovery.

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