Office of the Governor
Backing of Plan to Revitalize Camden
Camden plan stresses economic development, public
safety, fiscal accountability and infrastructure improvements
(Camden) - Reinforcing his commitment to revitalizing the City of Camden, Governor James E. McGreevey today announced his support for a legislative proposal that would invest in the City over the next three years to rebuild its infrastructure, improve public safety and create a higher level of fiscal and governmental accountability.
At the Antioch Baptist Church, the Governor was joined by State Senator Wayne Bryant, Assembly members Joe Roberts and Nilsa Cruz Perez, Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, as well as leaders from the Camden Churches Organized for People as he expressed his support for Camden’s economic recovery plan.
“Today we stand committed to addressing the problems that, for too long, have stood in the way of Camden’s progress and economic growth,” said McGreevey. “This revitalization plan will take significant steps toward restoring Camden’s neighborhoods and economy. By investing in the City’s schools, infrastructure, housing market, businesses and university facilities, government can serve as an economic engine in the renewal of Camden. This plan will empower the City’s residents, improve their quality of life and demonstrate that this Administration is committed to making a difference in Camden.”
In total, the plan provides for a $175 million investment in projects over three years, with funding coming from across state agencies including, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Community Affairs, Environmental Protection, Transportation, Delaware River Port Authority, Economic Development Authority, Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, and the State Police. Some of the highlights of the projects contemplated under the redevelopment plan are:
“The South Jersey delegation, under the leadership of Senator Wayne Bryant and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Roberts, have stood fast in their commitment to ensuring Camden’s revitalization,” said McGreevey. “They have put forth a vision of a ‘university city’ that can be built upon a healthy, revitalized hospital and university district which will result in these institutions becoming larger players in both the City’s economy and the entire region’s.
- The demolition of more than 1000 vacant, abandoned buildings throughout the City
- Rehabilitation of hundreds of residential units in various neighborhoods
- Repair or replacement of a majority of the city’s antiquated water and sewer infrastructure, as well as improvements to transportation infrastructure
- Leveraging private investment, such as the conversion of the RCA Victor building into luxury loft apartments
- Enhanced public safety efforts through coordination with the State Police
- Development of and improvements to workforce training in Camden
- Investment in universities, UMDNJ, hospitals, Camden County College to ensure they play a leadership role in Camden’s revitalization
“We have worked closely with the leadership of Camden’s healthcare and higher education communities,” continued McGreevey. “Their collaborative efforts will result in hundreds of new students living within Camden and partnerships with the City and the schools.”
Strengthening City Administration
In addition to creating a Chief Operating Officer, the plan will include other measures to improve City Administration, such as a $2.2 million investment by the Department of Community Affairs from FY 2003 to FY 2005.
This money will be used to increase the current tax collection rate from 77 percent to 90 percent or better; to reorganize and make more efficient various City departments and divisions particularly Code Enforcement and Land Use Administration; and to reduce the time required to issue building permits and planning/zoning reviews.
Investing in Higher Education and Medical Facilities
The NJEDA will invest $41.1 million from FY 2003 to FY 2005 towards the creation of the Higher Education and Medical Institutions Economic Development Fund to be supported by the financing mechanisms authorized under the Redevelopment Area Bond Financing Law.
This money will be used to leverage $45.3 million in other public/private investments for the development of more than half a million square feet of higher education and medical center space within and around the Camden central business district. The higher education and medical institution’s 45.3 million investment includes $5.5 million from Camden County Community College, $4.45 million from Cooper Health Systems, $3.325 million from Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, $6.5 million from Rowan University, $16 million from Rutgers University and $9.5 million from UMDNJ.
Providing Camden’s Students with Efficient Schools
In addition to the $175 million being invested in Camden over the next three years, the State is committed to providing the City with improved public schools.
To enhance the State’s investment in the City’s school system, to provide accountability and to improve education for the City’s children, the Governor also proposes to change the composition of the Camden Board of Education. To compliment the current Board, the Governor will appoint three additional members. With the School Board elections in April 2003, the Board will consist of three appointments by the Governor, three appointments by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council, and three members elected at large. The Governor, or his designee, will have veto power over the minutes.
Increasing Public Safety
Last month, the Governor announced the creation of the Camden Anti-Crime Partnership, which has been focusing on improving the quality of life for Camden residents and addressing the most problematic areas of criminal activity in the City. The Governor announced today that the Division of State Police will invest $3 million dollars from FY 2003 to FY 2004 to continue this collaboration with all levels of government, community groups and residents.
Specifically, the State Police will provide an increased presence throughout all of Camden’s neighborhoods, work to lower violent and non-violent crime rates—especially drug related crimes, and share model law enforcement practices with local Camden Police that will improve local enforcement’s ability to fight crime and improve relations with residents.
Investing in Neighborhood Redevelopment (Revitalization/ Demolition)
To eliminate blighted properties, DCA and HMFA will invest at least $17 million over the next three years to demolish more than 1000 dilapidated or abandoned buildings throughout the City — 445 of which are being demolished to facilitate private capital investment to rebuild the neighborhoods of Cramer Hill, Rosedale-Dudley and Cooper’s Ferry. This money will also be used to stabilize several neighborhoods in advance of residential redevelopment activities.
An additional $7 million from DCA, as well as $15 million from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, will be invested in improving housing throughout the City from FY 2004 to FY 2005. This $22 million investment will be used for leveraging federal and private resources for the rehabilitation of hundreds of residential units throughout the City and construction of 300 to 400 new residential housing units.
Improving Transportation and City Infrastructure
From FY 2003 to FY 2005, the Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation will invest over $41.9 million to make substantial improvements and upgrades to the City’s water and sewer system and roadways.
DEP will repair, upgrade and replace a majority of the City’s water and sewer infrastructure by investing over $11.2 million for storm sewer separation and $8.6 for improvements to water line infrastructure. Camden County will also invest $15 million towards improving water and sewer infrastructure.
DEP will also provide $2 million for forestation and urban parks, including pocket parks for stabilizing demolished lots within redevelopment areas.
DOT will spend $2.29 million to resurface 16.6 miles of roads, $2.1 million to upgrade and construct traffic lights, $3.75 million to improve streets to accommodate the South Jersey Light Rail Transit System, $3 million for improvements to Riverside Drive, $500,000 for improvements to MLK Boulevard (to Newton Avenue) and $450,000 to construct the Cooper River Drive Drainage Improvement near Baird Boulevard. In addition, $8 million in federal funds leveraged by the Delaware River Port Authority will be used to facilitate the construction of the Delaware River Tram Project.
Developing Camden’s Economy
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the Delaware River Port Authority and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will jointly invest over $42.1 million from FY 2003 to FY 2005 on various projects that will stimulate economic development in Camden.
This money will be used to leverage $47 million for the rehabilitation and conversion of the RCA Victor building into luxury loft apartments, $800,000 for the development of a new office and business incubator building to be partly occupied by Drexel and Rutgers University for research purposes and $1 million to develop 575,000 square feet of Research and Development space for L3 Communications, a communications equipment manufacturer.
In addition, over $30 million—$6 million from CRDA and $25 million from DRPA—will be used to create an economic development fund that will leverage future private sector capital for commercial and industrial projects throughout Camden.
Training Camden’s Workforce
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Delaware River Port Authority will jointly invest over $5.5 million from FY 2003 to FY 2005 for improving workforce training in Camden.
Specifically, this money will be used to leverage $1.3 million in private capital from American Community Partnership to make leasehold improvements to a workforce training facility along the waterfront. American Community Partnership will then provide pre-apprenticeship training to local residents seeking job opportunities in the construction trades and other industries.