A view of the Camden waterfront — Courtesy: New Jersey Economic Development Authority
By Joshua Burd
A state authority is seeking a developer for the site of a former prison in Camden — a parcel that it describes as “the most valuable piece of real estate” on the city’s northern waterfront.
The 8.75-acre property, which once housed Riverfront State Prison, is the subject of a request for qualifications issued Wednesday by the state Economic Development Authority. The state is seeking eligible respondents to acquire and build a mixed-use project at the site, which accounts for roughly a third of a study area identified by the Delaware River Port Authority in 2006.
“The RFQ represents an opportunity to create a mixed-use development on the most valuable piece of real estate in North Camden,” Melissa Orsen, the authority’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “As a key part of North Camden’s redevelopment plan, the completed project will serve to revitalize the neighborhood, bring additional private investment to the city, and contribute to Camden’s ongoing renaissance.”
Demolition of the former penitentiary, which sits just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, was completed in 2010 after its closure a year earlier. The EDA said the property, which offers views of the Philadelphia skyline, “may also be eligible for the highest amount of incentives” under the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, much like the subsidies that are supporting high-profile developments elsewhere in the city.
The site will also benefit from a newly established public park and roadway improvements, the EDA said. Both are expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
The sale includes a two-step RFQ and sealed bid process, with the EDA accepting qualifications through March 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. Based on the criteria outlined in the RFQ, the EDA will establish a short list and then issue a bid package to eligible respondents and accept sealed bids.
If necessary, the EDA will issue and accept best and final offers, the news release said. The final sale and development will be subject to various approvals, including a designated review committee, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, the EDA board and the State House Commission.
The EDA said the sale and development of the property must be consistent with the North Camden Waterfront Study Area Redevelopment Plan, which called for creating a vibrant, mixed-use district that provides new opportunities for riverfront recreation and attracts sustainable development. The plan also calls for connecting existing residential neighborhoods to the waterfront.