Page 1 of 9 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 126

Thread: New Jersey Investing in Camden

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    815

    Default New Jersey Investing in Camden

    The state is investing big money in an eyesore



    Sunday, November 09, 2003


    BY STEVE CHAMBERS
    Star-Ledger Staff

    In a fifth-floor office overlooking the Camden waterfront last week, a group of men pored over plans to help resurrect New Jersey's poorest city.

    One of them, Ohio developer Yaromir Steiner, had signed a deal with state officials just days before to take over and expand the State Aquarium, which has drawn disappointingly small crowds. His company, Steiner & Associates, also had been handed the rights to 30 acres of waterfront property, where it envisions a hotel, a cluster of restaurants and retail space.

    There was excitement in the room, but Steiner talked realistically about the chances of success.

    "We are not drinking champagne here," he said, his words wrapped in a thick Turkish accent. "We are eating pasta before the marathon."

    No one questions the difficulty of reviving Camden, a one-time industrial powerhouse that now resides on the sad list of America's poorest cities. Some of its neighborhoods contain so many burned-out row houses that they resemble war zones.

    Gov. James E. McGreevey is gambling a portion of his political future that the timing is finally right to reverse the fortunes of a city that has become synonymous with failure, urban decline and corruption. A bill the governor pushed and signed last year made $175 million of redevelopment seed money available for the city, beginning with the creation of a powerful Economic Recovery Board. Its chief operating officer, former Camden Mayor Randy Primas, has veto power over the mayor and the city council and controls the purse strings of the city budget.

    Some are skeptical, worn down by past promises. But others with long experience of trying to turn the waterfront into an entertainment mecca feel differently.

    "I've lived and worked here since 1975, and I would say this is the high point," said Thomas Corcoran, president of the Cooper's Ferry Development Association. "There are a lot of things coming together, seemingly all at once. There is a lot of excitement."

    The projects include:


    A $57 million expansion of the 11-year-old aquarium that will double its size and upgrade its exhibits. The aquarium, which would close next fall and reopen in May 2005, would join the city's minor-league baseball stadium and concert center as tourist anchors. The state is kicking in $25 million to get the deal done, hoping to boost annual attendance at the aquarium, now about 600,000, to 850,000.


    The Victor, the luxuriously restored RCA Victor factory building, which began renting its first residential units on Labor Day at rates of up to $2,750 a month. With unobstructed views of Philadelphia, a rooftop gym and other amenities, it is already considered a success and will offer 341 units by the end of February.


    A corporate headquarters for Cigna, the insurance giant that is expected to move its Philadelphia headquarters to a waterfront site. A major urban redeveloper, Matrix Development Group of Cranbury, has been tapped to build it.

    A request for proposals for Lanning Square, a relatively stable residential neighborhood adjacent to the waterfront, has attracted 19 overtures from major developers -- this in a city that, in the 10-year period ending in 1996, issued just one building permit, and didn't issued more than 20 a year until 2001.

    State Treasurer John McCormac, who chairs the recovery board, said he and Caren Franzini, CEO of the state Economic Development Authority, are getting a half-dozen calls a week from major corporations, developers and other interested in the city.

    This redevelopment effort will be different, McCormac said, because the waterfront development will help stabilize Camden's finances and begin pulling the city up.

    "We have learned from the experiences of 10 years ago," McCormac said. "This time we are linking the aquarium project directly to land development on the waterfront."


    'THE GREATEST LOCATION'

    Steiner Associates, which has developed several large-scale entertainment complexes, including a Kentucky aquarium across the river from Cincinnati, has plans for an IMAX theater as well as restaurants and a hotel on its 30 acres. The hotel would be the only one in the city.

    Carl Dranoff, the Philadelphia developer of the Victor and 70 other urban residential buildings, has the right to build more than 1,000 residential units on a huge vacant property between the aquarium and Campbell's Field, in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Dranoff first intends to renovate another RCA building and is considering turning it into condominiums.

    Dranoff, who makes a living speculating on the next hot neighborhood, predicts Camden's time has come. He said a tram that will traverse the river to Philadelphia -- construction by the Delaware River Port Authority starts this winter -- and a soon-to-be-operational light-rail link to Trenton will bring Camden even more residents.

    "When I first drove over the bridge from Philadelphia in February 1999, I looked out at that blighted warehouse and saw what had to be one of the greatest locations of all time," he said. "It had an unencumbered view, character and history, and it was big enough to be a catalyst."

    Part of the new state money focuses on two backbone industries based just blocks from the waterfront: higher education and health care. They will get $47.7 million. The one-time grants -- ranging from $13.3 million to $250,000 -- will help pay for expansions by Rutgers and Rowan universities, Camden County College, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Cooper Hospital and others.

    Peter O'Connor, a longtime housing activist and critic of past efforts to redevelop Camden, said he likes most of those projects.

    In the end, however, he is convinced upscale housing efforts will fail or be very limited in scope.

    "The major deterrent in Camden is the presence of 80,000 poor people and all the social ills that accompany them," he said. "With no regional strategy for working on the concentration of poverty, it just won't work."

    Steiner, who was born in Istanbul, said he believes that one reason an Ohio company is leading the charge is that its executives don't have the prejudices about Camden that others might. He looks at the waterfront and sees 30 acres practically in the heart of Philadelphia.

    But he concedes that success means reversing old attitudes. If those prejudices persist, in other words, he won't have the customers for his shiny new aquarium or his hotel.

    "I don't want to sound like a rosy dreamer," he said. "This will take hard work, and we are nowhere near there yet."


    'LOOK AT 42ND STREET'

    State officials, meanwhile, pledge their focus is on getting Camden back on its feet and independent of state control.

    There were early tensions from community groups when the recovery board mapped out priorities for funding neighborhood projects. There also are fears about gentrification.

    "What you'll have is a tale of two cities," said Frank Fulbrook, a neighborhood activist who helped bring back a tiny neighborhood called Cooper-Grant, next to Rutgers Law School on the edge of the waterfront. "In the inland neighborhoods, you'll still have sections with more than a dozen open-air drugs markets."

    McCormac said the state must focus first on the most stable neighborhoods, places where private developers are willing to invest and results can be achieved most quickly.

    Franzini of the EDA points to signs of success such as a massive federally funded housing development in tough East Camden, which has been able to sell market-rate housing.

    "No city can come back all at once," Franzini said. "Look at 42nd Street in New York. That project took a long time, but it happened because there was a plan.

    "Now there is a plan for Camden."

    There is grumbling in City Hall about how it has not been asked for input.

    "We had to marry the ugly girl to get the dowry," said City Clerk Luis Pastoriza, who has lived in Camden most of his life.

    Still, Pastoriza said, there is no question the focus by state officials is an unprecedented and welcome change.

    "The planets seem to have aligned," he said. "Camden has really seen tough times, but it's turning a corner. This is real."
    http://nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?...9658242680.xml

  2. #2
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,298

    Default

    'THE GREATEST LOCATION'

    Steiner Associates, which has developed several large-scale entertainment complexes, including a Kentucky aquarium across the river from Cincinnati, has plans for an IMAX theater as well as restaurants and a hotel on its 30 acres. The hotel would be the only one in the city.
    The aquarium they're referring to is in Newport, Kentucky, where my grandparents live and my dad grew up.

  3. #3
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Jersey City
    Posts
    4,457

    Default

    If they can have the same sucess in Camden as we have in Jersey City, it will truly be a urban development cinderella story.

  4. #4

    Default

    I don't think the two are analogous. Jersey City's success is due to its proximity to the financial district, a singularity in the region. Philadelphia is important, but it doesn't have the desperate crunch for space that the New York region has -- not bad enough for mainstream office workers to cross the Delaware and colonize Camden.

    Have you ever been to Camden? Just thinking about it sends a chill up my spine. It's a creepy place.

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    The Catskills
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: New Jersey Investing in Camden

    The photo tours on Skyscraper Page are worthwhile. Thanks, Zippy the Chimp. You won't get these from the Chamber of Commerce.

    Quote Originally Posted by STT757
    [Good journalist. Some great quotes here:]
    "We are not drinking champagne here," he said, his words wrapped in a thick Turkish accent. "We are eating pasta before the marathon."

    . . . this in a city that, in the 10-year period ending in 1996, issued just one building permit, and didn't issued more than 20 a year until 2001.

    Peter O'Connor, a longtime housing activist and critic of past efforts to redevelop Camden, said he likes most of those projects.
    "The major deterrent in Camden is the presence of 80,000 poor people and all the social ills that accompany them," he said. "With no regional strategy for working on the concentration of poverty, it just won't work."

    "What you'll have is a tale of two cities," said Frank Fulbrook . . . "In the inland neighborhoods, you'll still have sections with more than a dozen open-air drugs markets."

    There is grumbling in City Hall about how it has not been asked for input.
    "We had to marry the ugly girl to get the dowry," said City Clerk Luis Pastoriza, who has lived in Camden most of his life.
    I commend the developers for taking risks in their search for opportunities, but the salvation of Camden can not be laid at the feet of speculative real estate developers. The State of New Jersey is not blameless for a region in such longterm and shameless neglect. The poor who strive to live good lives amidst lawlessness are citizens of a state that has abandoned them with little conscience or concern.

    It will take a couple of generations to renew Camden, unless the siren call of "two cities" is too difficult to resist and Camden, once again, is tossed on the pile of shameful neglect. Just what is a "Commonwealth" or a State, anyway?

  7. #7

    Default

    December 17, 2003

    Development to Offer $1.2 Billion Boost to Camden

    By JILL P. CAPUZZO

    CAMDEN, N.J., Dec. 16 Officials planned to announce Wednesday the largest single investment ever proposed for this poverty-ridden city, a $1.2 billion mixed-use project that would be built along the banks of the Delaware River.

    Gov. James E. McGreevey is expected to join officials here to declare the city's intention to work with Cherokee Investment Partners on developing a square-mile stretch of land in the Cramer Hill neighborhood.

    The project, expected to be built over the next 10 years, will include 5,000 homes, retail and commercial space and an 18-hole golf course.

    Camden's state-appointed chief operating officer, Randy Primas, said he expected final approval in 60 to 90 days, with construction to begin in the next year. Mr. Primas, a mayor of Camden in the 1980's who returned recently as part of the state's $175 million recovery package for Camden, said that until now, "the people of Cramer Hill thought they were forgotten by the city."

    Although Cramer Hill is not considered one of Camden's worst neighborhoods, it is marked by boarded-up homes and abandoned warehouses, like much of the rest of the city, the state's poorest.

    Cherokee's chief executive, Thomas Darden, said Camden fitted into the company's scheme of selecting sites in need of remediation and community development. Since 1990, it has acquired more than 300 similar properties in North America and Europe.

    The proposal includes about 1,000 units of affordable housing. Mr. Primas suggested that market-rate homes along nearly two miles of riverfront could go for $200,000.

    The executive director of the Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation, Byron Woodson, said the project would displace 800 to 1,000 residents, most of whom would be offered replacement housing in other sections of the neighborhood.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  8. #8
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,298

    Default

    A map of the future light-rail link between Camden and Trenton, currently under construction. Courtesy of lightrail.com


  9. #9

    Default

    Always good to have public transportation expanded in the region.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    815

    Default

    The Delaware River Port Authority is also begining construction of a sky tram (similar to Rosevelt Island) to connect the Camden Waterfront (Battleship NJ, Aqarium, Blockbuster Center) with Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

  11. #11
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Manhattan - UWS
    Posts
    4,208

    Default

    'Development to Offer $1.2 Billion Boost to Camden' ~ I still can't believe this is for real...somebody wake me up!

    Camden its getting better day by day. Hopefully it will be like jersey city in the near future. Although then again...

  12. #12
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,298

    Default

    Philly will have to do better also. But I'm very optimistic about that happening.

  13. #13
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    West Harlem
    Posts
    2,805

    Default

    The tram is cool... I wonder how it will turn out. I hope well.

  14. #14
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Manhattan - UWS
    Posts
    4,208

    Default

    Philly thinks that it can built a new and improved Pens Landing....but I will be dead until that heppens. Many people had already died since the 50's when it was first mention. I woudnt be surprice.

  15. #15

Page 1 of 9 12345 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. New Jersey running out of Open Space
    By Kris in forum New York Metro
    Replies: 67
    Last Post: March 3rd, 2015, 11:06 AM
  2. 3 New Towers in Jersey City
    By Zoe in forum New York Metro
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: November 2nd, 2012, 07:55 AM
  3. Jersey City's Other Waterfront
    By JCMAN320 in forum New York Metro
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: September 29th, 2006, 06:12 PM
  4. Brooklyn to Jersey City
    By JCMAN320 in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: September 2nd, 2003, 09:04 PM
  5. Bear Stearns cancels Jersey City move
    By NYguy in forum New York Real Estate
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: February 27th, 2003, 12:12 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


Google+ - Facebook - Twitter - Meetup

Edward's photos on Flickr - Wired New York on Flickr - In Queens - In Red Hook - Bryant Park - SQL Backup Software