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'Iconic' $700M project coming to Camden waterfront

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The project will be
The project will be "transformative" for the waterfront, officials said. - ()

Liberty Property Trust, a major development firm headquartered outside of Philadelphia, announced its plans Thursday to build a mixed-use development on the Camden waterfront that officials say will be “transformative” and will create an “iconic” skyline for the city.

The project, spread out on 16 waterfront acres across several buildings and two large modern towers to be located near Campbell’s Field and the Adventure Aquarium, will feature over 300 residential units, 1.7 million square feet of office space, a 120-room hotel and additional retail space.

At an estimated $700 million, the project will surpass the $260 million capital investment currently being made by Holtec International for its waterfront project as the city’s single largest in its history.

“This is a really proud moment for all that we’ve accomplished,” said Gov. Chris Christie, who joined city officials and Liberty representatives for the announcement Thursday at the Aquarium.

Christie said that the city’s residents have “waited far too long” for a project of this magnitude. He added that he hopes Camden’s reality will soon overtake its potential.

“We’re going to be able to say, ‘Camden is here,’ ” said Christie.

“I can’t wait to see the iconic towers go up,” said Mayor Dana Redd.

Liberty CEO William Hankowsky, who began his career over three decades ago in Camden as the city’s director of community development, reflected on the moment being somewhat of a homecoming for him.

“This city gave me my start,” Hankowsky said. “It gave me a place to learn and grow.”

In Philadelphia, Liberty has headed up projects such as the Navy Yard and the Comcast Center, which is currently the city’s tallest building.

Hankowsky said that he believes construction in Camden can begin as early as fall 2016 with a completion date sometime in 2019.

“Camden, now, is open for business,” Hankowsky said.

Tax credits administered through the state Economic Development Authority are expected to play a large role in the project and its procurement of companies.

As first reported Thursday morning by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cherry Hill-based companies of NFI Industries and the Michaels Organization and the Haddonfield-based law firm of Archer & Greiner have already indicated that they plan on being part of the development.

According to the Inquirer, the Marlton-based insurance firm of Conner Strong & Buckelew, which is led by South Jersey power broker George Norcross, also is considering moving its headquarters to the complex.

The Inquirer also reported that Norcross will be investing $50 million of his own money into the project.

Hankowsky thanked Norcross for introducing Liberty to the opportunity.

The New York-based firm of architect Robert A.M. Stern is in charge of the project’s masterplan.

Stern said that the project aims to not just raise new buildings in the area, but to create a new, vibrant urban neighborhood on the waterfront.

“It’s a dream, but it’s a dream very close to reality,” Stern said.

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