A rendering of One Water Street in Camden, the future headquarters of American Water Works Co. Inc. — Courtesy: Robert A.M. Stern Architects
By Joshua Burd
The nation’s largest publicly traded water utility has broken ground on its new 220,000-square-foot headquarters in Camden, the first piece of a massive plan to remake the city’s waterfront.
Executives with American Water Works Co. Inc. and its developer, Liberty Property Trust, gathered earlier this week to mark the start of construction at the five-story building, which will be home to more than 600 employees. Located at One Water Street, the project is scheduled for completion in late 2018.
It’s a milestone for both the utility, which is consolidating four different locations in South Jersey, but also for the city. The project kicks off a $1 billion redevelopment of the city’s waterfront by Liberty Property Trust, as a cluster of other projects take shape around the city, including a new manufacturing center by Holtec International, a global energy technology company, and a new headquarters for the Philadelphia 76ers.
American Water’s complex will rise between the Ben Franklin Bridge and Adventure Aquarium.
“American Water and our employees are excited about our new home on the Camden waterfront,” said Susan Story, CEO and president of American Water. “We know this will be a place where we can become an even stronger presence in this great city, where we can attract and develop talent for today and the future; and where we can develop solutions to challenges for clean, safe, reliable and affordable water and water services for people across the country.”
Liberty’s Camden waterfront project, designed by Robert A.M Stern Architects, also includes proposals for 180-room Hilton Garden Inn to be developed by Ensemble Real Estate Solutions, according to a news release. The developer also has an agreement pending with The Michaels Organization for 188 residential units.
The office component will consist of build-to-suit projects for other companies drawn to the mixed-use environment, with a pipeline that was previously reported at around 1.45 million square feet. Stakeholders also plan to invest $8 million in the reconstruction and enhancement of the existing waterfront park, creating more than 2.5 additional acres of open space.
“The significance of this moment is twofold,” said Liberty Property Trust Chairman, CEO and President William Hankowsky. “Today, we not only celebrate breaking ground on American Water’s new corporate headquarters, but also recognize this is the very first step in establishing The Camden Waterfront as a thriving and dynamic community.”
American Water’s building will have panoramic views of the Philadelphia skyline and easy access to a waterfront park along the Delaware River, according to a news release, along with plentiful natural lighting, a rooftop terrace and cutting-edge technology. Robert A.M. Stern Architects is the architect, with Gensler designing the interior of the building.
As part of the overall project, Liberty has entered into a Community Investment Agreement with Camden in which it has committed to staffing 10 to 20 percent of the construction workforce with qualified Camden residents, among other benefits for the city’s business community and population. Additionally, 20 percent of the residential units will be allocated to affordable housing.
American Water is relocating with the help of a 10-year, $164 million tax credit, a tool that has been used to draw other high-profile projects to Camden. Camden Mayor Dana Redd said the project “will transform our waterfront and benefit our residents for many years to come.”
“The construction of One Water Street marks another great chapter in our city’s history,” Redd said. “I commend both Liberty Property Trust along with American Water for committing to Camden.”
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross added: “American Water’s new headquarters will be more than just a building. It will stand as a symbol of Camden’s renewal. Today we’re a step closer to realizing the vision of a revitalized Camden City with new jobs and opportunities for our entire community.”
American Water provides regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada, the news release said.