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CAMDEN, NJ-According to published reports, Cooper’s Ferry Development Association, a non-profit organization overseeing the redevelopment of the Delaware River waterfront of this beleaguered city, is negotiating to sell the New Jersey State Aquarium to Ohio-based Steiner and Associates. Under the proposed deal, Steiner would buy the property and everything in it, except the name. The sale would include an adjacent tract of six acres, which Steiner would have the option of developing with compatible commercial uses. Public financing is said to be part of the deal.

It’s all part of Cooper’s Ferry’s long-range plan to leverage as much as $500 million in new development on the Camden waterfront over the next decade. Already in place are the aquarium and One Port Center, an office building and various recreational venues. In the works besides an entertainment complex that Steiner would develop next to the aquarium are an arena, parks, marina facilities and a visitor center for the battleship New Jersey. The latter is currently undergoing a refitting in a nearby shipyard. Cooper’s Ferry is also said to be negotiating with a Pennsylvania developer to convert the RCA Nipper Building into a residential property. If the sale proceeds, the non-profit New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences is expected to retain the management contract for the aquarium.

The New Jersey State Aquarium is adjacent to the Camden Children’s Garden at 1 Riverside Drive here. It’s home to 4,000 fish and aquatic animals. In the county across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, a community left behind by the economic success of other areas in America, this has been a crowning jewel. It has drawn residents of South Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and tourists alike to shows, presentations and exhibitions featuring marine biology education and entertainment. The aquarium is accessible from Philadelphia from the city’s major waterfront recreational area, Penn’s Landing, by ferry.

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