A rendering of the proposed Camden Tower in Camden — Courtesy: Conner Strong & Buckelew
By Joshua Burd
State officials have awarded nearly $245 million in tax credits to spur a trio of prominent South Jersey companies to move to Camden as part of the city’s sweeping waterfront redevelopment.
At its monthly board meeting, the Economic Development Authority approved the 10-year tax credits for Conner Strong & Buckelew, NFI and The Michaels Organization. The firms, which are currently based in the surrounding suburbs, sought the incentives under a proposed $245 million, 375,000-square-foot office tower that they unveiled late last week.
Led by Conner Strong Executive Chairman George E. Norcross III, the South Jersey political and business leader, the firms on Thursday thanked the EDA and touted the approvals as the next step in Camden’s resurgence.
“The commitment of the NJEDA to the revitalization of New Jersey’s cities is one of the key reasons Camden has been able to see such a dramatic turnaround in such a short time,” they said in a joint statement. “We are committed to Camden’s future and expect to invest tens of millions of dollars to build The Camden Tower on the city’s waterfront, continuing the amazing growth and investment the city has seen in the last decade.
“It’s an exciting time in Camden’s history and we look forward to being a key part of its future.”
The firms said last week that the 18-story project, dubbed Camden Tower, would bring more than 850 jobs to the city as a result. They said the building would be ready for occupancy in August 2019, replacing what are currently surface parking lots.
An EDA board memo said the three firms were considering an alternative 95,378-square-foot location in Philadelphia. The companies — which include an insurance brokerage, a supply chain and logistics firm and a housing developer — were approved under separate applications under the Grow New Jersey program.
The EDA also said the roughly $245 million project would be financed by a combination of debt from a syndicate of banks, to be arranged by M&T Bank as agent, and owners’ equity contributions from the tenants.
The new building would rise within Liberty Property Trust’s massive $1 billion redevelopment area known as The Camden Waterfront. Late last month, the developer kicked off the project by breaking ground on a new 220,000-square-foot headquarters for American Water Works Co. Inc.
Conner Strong & Buckelew, a national insurance brokerage, risk management and employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm, is currently headquartered in the Marlton section of Evesham. NFI, a supply chain and logistics firm, is based in Cherry Hill, while The Michaels Organization, an affordable and mixed-income housing developer, is also based in Marlton.