By Joshua Burd
The state has approved a 10-year, $39.6 million tax credit package aimed at luring a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit to Camden, where it would build a new waterfront office building and create nearly 170 jobs not currently in the state.
Elwyn, a 166-year-old human services organization, won the approval on Tuesday during the Economic Development Authority’s monthly board meeting. Based in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania, the organization said it was considering a plan to build the new 53,425-square-foot building at 2 Penn St. in Camden.
It was also considering an alternate facility in Wilmington, Delaware, but the EDA hopes that the newly approved Grow New Jersey incentive will prompt it to pick the Garden State location.
“This project represents a significant positive step forward for Camden’s redevelopment efforts, bringing 2 Penn Street to the city,” the authority wrote in a board memorandum, noting that the plan would bring an estimated net benefit to the state of $88,310 over 35 years.
Elwyn, which serves individuals with intellectual, physical, behavioral and developmental disabilities, already has 33 employees in Vineland, according to the EDA. The organization has told state officials the positions are at risk of being moved out of state, but they would be retained and moved to Camden if it opts to construct the new office there.
Doing so would bring a total of 200 new jobs to the city, including 167 not currently located in New Jersey. Jeremy Sunkett, Elwyn’s vice president of corporate real estate, said they would be largely administrative positions currently in Middletown, Pennsylvania, that would be consolidated with its team in Vineland.
Elwyn would also maintain its longtime home in Pennsylvania as part of a master plan to modernize and reconfigure its footprint. As part of that process, the organization expects to devote that campus to its core functions.
“Part of what this move of the administrative component does is that it allows us to create a ‘grow in place’ scenario on that campus,” Sunkett said, referring to its Middletown location. That growth will come “in the areas that are more core to what we do, in the programs and the services that we provide to the individuals that we serve.”
The organization would not begin to collect its tax credit in New Jersey until the project is completed and the state has verified the creation of the new positions.
The project would represent a capital investment of nearly $40 million, according to the EDA, with an estimated completion date of February 2021. Its location is about two blocks from the Delaware River and part of a $1 billion redevelopment area that includes a new headquarters complex for American Water and an office tower that will house the offices of NFI, Conner Strong & Buckelew and The Michaels Organization.
Liberty Property Trust owns the site and been spearheading the redevelopment area, although the company has indicated its plans to get out of the office business.
Meantime, Camden is one of five Garden State Growth Zones under the state’s incentive programs, allowing projects in the city to qualify for larger tax credit awards and bonus criteria.