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Grapevine: 'Fireworks' over Camden? We're told it's coming soon

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    For months now, word has been circulating that a major project is on its way to Camden.

    Let's be honest: For years now we've been hearing that big things are about to happen in Camden.

    The Philadelphia Business Journal added a little gas to the fire two weeks ago with a story reportedly naming Brandywine Realty Trust (though they declined to comment) as the developer for Campbell Soup Co.'s long-awaited Gateway Office Park project.

    Roughly 2 million square feet, more than 100 acres, a brand new PATCO station, office space rents starting at $4 a square foot — all supposedly, just maybe, coming soon to an EDA meeting near you.

    It sounds like the kind of project the Economic Opportunity Act was built for.

    But when the agenda for last Friday's EDA meeting was finally posted toward the middle of last week, there was yet again, no sign of a Camden mega-project. Per policy, the EDA can't comment on whether there's anything pending from Brandywine or Campbell's in the near future, NJBIZ was then told.

    As of this writing, the agenda remains unchanged.

    Alas, patience is a virtue. But as one source optimistically put it, a “number of projects” are on their way to Camden and at this point, it's more so a matter of when, rather than if.

    “We're going to see some fireworks coming out of Camden,” the source said.

    As many predicted at the start, Camden could be a hotbed for activity in the wake of the new incentives law. The source said that appears to be on its way to reality.

    “It's been awesome,” the source said.

    New leadership in Newark shouldn’t stunt city’s growth

    In what many have perceived as a true end to the Cory Booker-era in Newark, the city voted to elect South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka as its new mayor last week.

    Baraka, a famously staunch critic of Booker, ran against former Assistant State Attorney General Shavar Jeffries and won by a cool 53 percent to 46 percent margin.

    Both candidates sat down with NJBIZ back in March to talk economic development in the city, with Baraka noting that the biggest misconception out there of him is that he is “anti-business.”

    “That's the biggest lie,” he told us.

    One source that followed the election believes him and said that ultimately, “Newark is going to fare just fine.”

    “Beyond all the campaign rhetoric that's been out there, every mayor knows that at the end of the day … he's got to grow his top line,” the source said.

    One thing to watch will be efforts to revitalize the city outside of its immediate downtown and into its neighborhoods and major commercial corridors, the source said.

    The source said that if the rest of the city's wards are lagging behind the few blocks in the central business district, “then the downtown is never going to achieve its ultimate potential.”

    A good example of how to do it, according to the source, is currently going on in Jersey City under Mayor Steven Fulop. There, it's no longer just about the waterfront, but also Journal Square, the Heights and other areas.

    “I think what he did was brilliant … I think it's a great approach,” the source said of Fulop.

    And for what it's worth, Fulop was a main backer of Baraka's in the run-up to last week.

    Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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