The Camden waterfront has slowly been seeing redevelopment over the years. Much of the development has been entertainment and for family fun, including the Adventure Aquarium, Campbell’s Field, and what’s now called the BB&T Pavilion for concerts. The redevelopment has included the renovation of the landmark RCA Victor factory into fancy apartments, the Philadelphia 76ers practice facility, and small office buildings, such as the Ferry Terminal Building and the Delaware River Port Authority headquarters. Liberty Property Trust, the developer of the four tallest buildings in Center City, is starting to develop a 26-acre site used for parking between the Ferry Terminal Building and Campbell’s Field, right along the waterfront. Officials from Liberty Property recently detailed their current plans at a recent meeting of the Design Advocacy Group.
The site has a master plan created by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. It is intended to create a “place”, something more than a suburban office park. It emphasizes, and builds upon, Camden’s traditional street grid and seeks to stitch together existing elements on the waterfront, particular the aquarium, the ball park, and the Victor. It is using 2050 floodplain standards and will rebuild some of the storm drains. It utilizes NJ Grow tax credits, which allows developers to recoup their investment up to $350 million, a very generous incentive intended to encourage development in a city where financing large projects is still difficult. The master plan calls for 1.2 to 1.4 million square feet of office space and a 180 room hotel, designed by Cope Linder Architects.
The first building is under construction right now. It is an expansive five-story building to be used as the headquarters of American Water and is called One Water Street (not to be confused with the new apartment building of the same name, just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge on Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia). One Water Street will have a large sign on top, visible from Penn’s Landing. The next building planned will be an eighteen-story highrise with parking and a restaurant space on the first floor. The hotel will be next to that building. A future highrise office building, also designed by Robert A.M. Stern, is planned next to the ballpark and a midrise office building, designed by innovative architects Digsau, would be built between the ballpark and the river bank. Finally, a midrise office building is planned next to the parking garage of the first highrise and the hotel. Liberty Property is planning a park along the river bank designed by architect Michael Van Valkenburg.
The development of these waterfront buildings could encourage the development of several parking lots along Camden’s Delaware Avenue, across from the Victor. The River Line runs along Delaware Avenue to Trenton. Already The Michaels Organization and Dranoff Properties, developer of the Victor, are planning to build a five-story apartment building, with a restaurant, next to the ballpark. Nearby, Rutgers University and Cooper Hospital have been expanding and Cooper Hospital and Rowan University have partnered to build a new medical school campus along Broadway, next to the soon-to-be-rebuilt Walter Rand Transportation Center. Campbell’s Soup is, also, building a new office park next to their new headquarters. Subaru of America has chosen to locate their North American headquarters there. Campbell’s would like to have many more buildings there, including highrises, and to make it pedestrian friendly. The Campbell’s office park is located behind Cooper Hospital, just beyond downtown Camden. Liberty Property Trust’s waterfront development and master plan could help transform Camden, giving it an important downtown business district.
By, Gabriel Gottlieb