The 350 graduate students who occupy the new student housing building on Rutgers-Camden's campus won't have to walk very far for food and other necessities. The ground floor of the building, slated to open this fall, will be home to a 7-Eleven convenience store, a Subway sandwich shop and Three Chilies Grill, a restaurant operated by the school.
The three retailers will create between 35 and 55 new jobs in downtown Camden as the city continues to invest in its "eds and meds" strategy to reinvigorate the economy.
Greg Gamble, director of economic development for the school, said RU-Camden studied other urban campuses, like Penn and Temple universities, and saw the schools had "the ability to spur economic development on their campuses and around their campuses."
Gamble said, as the school moves toward its goal of becoming a more 24/7 campus instead of a predominantly commuter campus, retail has to be part of the plan.
"We as a university have the ability of our critical mass because of our students, faculty and staff to be an attractive magnet for retailers," Gamble said.
The school used polling and other schools' models to determine the best mix of retailers for the space, and used the procurement process to gauge companies' interest.
"It really was not a long wait — there were many retailers that jumped at the opportunity," Gamble said. "We selected based on students' need and who was interested, and what was the best mix of retailers."
The 7-Eleven is a corporate-owned store that will eventually be sold to a franchisee. Subway will open as a franchise location, while Rutgers employees will run the Three Chilies. The three retailers will occupy 7,000 square feet in the $55 million facility.
"It is truly an exciting time here in Camden as redevelopment efforts continue to transform the downtown and its neighborhoods," said Mayor Dana L. Redd in a statement. "These new business additions are yet another example that Camden is on the rise and open for business opportunities."