Camden, it seems, has learned little from “winning” Streetsblog’s Golden Crater Award last year. The sea of surface parking along the downtown waterfront has long been a public eyesore, but that won’t stop the City from adding even more.
Camden’s Delaware Waterfront development is expected to bring waves of visitors and workers to the area between the Philadelphia 76ers’ 125,000-square-foot practice facility and the Liberty Property Trust’s 26-acre mixed-use project. The City’s knee-jerk reaction to such massive redevelopment is to ensure even more space for parked vehicles.
A few surface parking spots may be lost in the process, but those spaces would be more than made up for with the new parking facilities included in the waterfront’s redevelopment plan. The Camden Parking Authority has plans for a $28 million parking garage housing 1,285 spaces. On top of that, the Liberty Property Trust waterfront project will accommodate another garage with 4,000-plus parking spots.
But downtown Camden already has ample parking. According to a 2011 report by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, downtown Camden has 13,345 off-street spaces–8,922 of those spots are provided by 62 surface lots, with the remaining 4,423 housed within five parking garages. A separate estimate from 2015 claimed the waterfront had at least 8,500 parking spaces.
The 19,000 parking spaces in downtown Camden would fill roughly 70 acres–the equivalent of nearly 13 New York City blocks.
Despite the abundant planned parking, the existing Central Waterfront area is not entirely auto-centric. The majority of the neighborhood is less than a mile from two PATCO stations and is directly served by two RiverLINE stations. The Waterfront is also accessible via NJ Transit bus service and ferries from Philadelphia. Liberties Property Trust has included plans to run shuttles to the Walter Rand and City Hall transit hubs and to build bike paths in its waterfront redevelopment project.
Camden cannot keep using the projected influx of people to the city as an excuse to justify building even more parking. The city need only look west to Philadelphia or north to Newark for examples of cities and companies accommodating new residents, workers and visitors by using their existing transit networks, rather than creating more space for storing cars.
TSTC Staff Analyst Ryan Hall contributed to this post.