Camden City Council acts to boost development

Posted: February 13, 2014

CAMDEN Camden City Council members took multiple steps intended to help boost development in the struggling city at a meeting Tuesday night.

Council approved on first reading a resolution to add a 7 percent surcharge to commercial parking fees. Only facilities used solely as "residential premises" would be excluded.

City Attorney Marc Riondino estimated that the fee would bring in about $500,000 per year - money dedicated to demolishing abandoned structures deemed unsafe.

Riondino said the revenue stream would be cited when the city applies for a "long-term" bond - the amount of which has not yet been determined - to demolish at least 500 properties. Estimates have put the number of abandoned properties in the city at 4,000.

Council President Frank Moran credited area legislators for a bill signed into law last month that enables Camden to implement the surcharge.

Council also approved a resolution that will allow the city's Parking Authority to invoke eminent domain in many cases without prior consent by Council.

"They look at a project and that project doesn't have sufficient parking - and they need to build parking facilities to spur economic development, then they can exercise eminent domain," Riondino said in an interview.

"They would have to seek the approval of Council," he added, if the authority sought to acquire an occupied residential property.

Members also unanimously approved a redevelopment study and plan for what is dubbed the North Camden Waterfront - a 54-acre area along the Delaware River just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The two reports, prepared by the Philadelphia firm Wallace Roberts & Todd, provide a framework for development.

Included in the area is the 16-acre site of the demolished Riverfront State Prison. A developer announced intentions in September to build what would become North America's third-largest World Trade Center at the site.

The North Camden Waterfront plan recommends mixed-use development, an "urban pier," green space, and other features designed to reconnect the neighborhood to the river. The Camden Redevelopment Agency website lists nine such redevelopment plans throughout the city.


afichera@philly.com

856-779-3917 @AJFichera

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