Camden Primed for Pedestrian-Friendly TOD

In a one-two punch for the City of Camden, New Jersey, an upcoming transit-oriented development project is slated to develop land near a train station and include complete streets upgrades that will add to the safety and prosperity of the area.

The Haddon Avenue Transit Village, a $100 million mixed-use development, will be built on 15 acres of underutilized land between the Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center and the Ferry Avenue PATCO rail station, which transports riders to Center City, Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. The project will include retail, office space, several hundred housing units, and a full-service grocery store. It is being spearheaded by Grapevine Development in partnership with the City of Camden, Camden County, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), and Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

Construction on phase I of the project is expected to begin in 12 to 18 months and will include 115 housing units and 40,000 square feet of office space. Housing units will be market rate, but Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, the project’s primary tenant, is considering offering incentives for employees that live where they work. While phase II has yet to be scheduled, it should bring an added 400 housing units, additional office and retail development, and a transit plaza that connects the PATCO station to Haddon Avenue.

In a move that seizes upon the connection between land use and transportation, the development will include pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly improvements to Haddon Avenue itself. Together with the project’s coordinators, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission recently submitted a federal TIGER application that seeks funding for these upgrades, which include bike lanes, new traffic signals, crosswalks, ADA-accessible sidewalks, and other traffic calming measures. This infrastructure will not only improve safety, but will also eventually connect directly to the area’s mixed-use trails (including the Camden Greenway), with the development serving as a hub in the greater regional trails network. DRPA has provided $1 million for the construction of roadway improvements and Cooper’s Ferry is seeking additional funding, ensuring that the project will move forward even if TIGER funds aren’t awarded.

4 Comments on "Camden Primed for Pedestrian-Friendly TOD"

  1. I really have my doubts that this project will succeed. Why live in Camden when you can get an apartment for less in Philly, likely pay less in taxes and live where the action is.

    The reason why Camden flounders while Jersey City and Newark continue to soar is because housing prices in New York City make JC and Newark attractive for the budget minded. I call this “Development Pressure.” Plus New York City is an extremely wealthy city and that money is bleeding its way across the Hudson. Plus NJ TRANSIT is getting too expensive and PATH is becoming a cheap option for those living in New Jersey and looking to get into NYC. Towns serviced by PATH are becoming increasingly attractive to those looking to work in NYC and who live on a budget.

    Unfortunately for Camden there is a lack of Development Pressure as the Philadelphia housing market is nowhere near as saturated as that in New York. Until it becomes relatively expensive to live close to downtown Philly, I fear Camden has little hope. I still hope my instincts are wrong on this as I cry for what was lost in Camden, “the City Invincible.”

  2. tacony palmyra | May 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

    @AndyB “Why live in Camden when you can get an apartment for less in Philly, likely pay less in taxes and live where the action is”

    The City of Philadelphia includes neighborhoods that range in price from moderately cheaper than Camden to significantly more expensive than Camden, and the cheaper neighborhoods are mostly as far or further away from Center City than Camden is. PATCO provides a quick, frequent 24-hour link to Center City, which is something that SEPTA doesn’t even provide Philadelphia city residents, let alone suburbanites. “The action” is mostly in Center City, not outlying affordable Philadelphia city neighborhoods. As a former resident of West Philly, I think living along PATCO provides better access than comparables on the other side of the river. Plus, this location would be good for young couples where one spouse works in Center City and the other works in suburban South Jersey, which is increasingly common. You’re right next to Collingswood as well, which has transformed into an attractive community for young professionals. It only makes sense to bring this environment over the Camden City line.

  3. Tacony,

    I like your counter point. Still, young people in Philly rely increasingly on their bikes as their primary mode of transport, not transit. If a bike is your means to get around, transit proximity becomes nearly pointless and makes many of Philly’s low-income inner-ring suburbs very attractive like Kensington and Germantown.

  4. if history has taught us anything, it’s that camden county freeholders should not be involved in real estate development (see pennsauken mart).

    there’s a reason that section of haddon ave looks like it does despite being a transit village with the ferry ave station since PATCO opened. if you want people to invest and live in camden:

    1. address the crime (without a county wide police force, i might add.)

    2. address the failing school system

    3. address the crumbling utility infrastructure.

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