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CAMDEN, NJ-One project involves redeveloping a 450-acre section with mixed uses, the other is an initiative to make over several of the city’s major thoroughfares. Together, the two separate projects are expected to pour upwards of $2.2 billion worth of new investment into what has long been considered among the country’s most troubled cities.

About $1.2 billion of that total is wrapped up in turning those 450 acres in Camden’s Cramer Hill section into a city-within-the-city. Yesterday morning, state and local officials were on hand to introduce Cherokee Camden, an affiliate of the Raleigh, NC-based Cherokee Investment Partners, as the designated redeveloper for the waterfront tract. What Cherokee has in mind, as approved by the Camden Redevelopment Agency, are 5,000 new residential units, including affordable housing, along with more than 500,000 sf of retail space, a new marina, parks and trails. A 90-acre landfill within the tract will be transformed into an 18-hole golf course.

“This project is a perfect example of the way we’re using public-private partnerships to build neighborhoods, create opportunities and put people back to work,” Gov. James McGreevey said in announcing Cherokee’s choice as lead developer Wednesday. “The project would create benefits in Camden and the entire region.”

“It’s the biggest project in the history of this city, or maybe any other city,” added Camden Mayor Gwen Faison during the unveiling.

State and local officials estimate that the Cramer Hill project, which could take up to a decade to complete, will create more than 1,500 permanent jobs, 5,500 construction and environmental remediation jobs and upwards of $20 million a year in property taxes.

The other $1 billion involves a separate effort by the Greater Camden Partnership and private-sector companies to be named later to remake several Downtown streets. Called the Downtown Camden Strategic Development Plan, the effort has been mapped out by the New York City-based Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects.

Under that plan, the streets involved would be “themed,” according to officials of the GCP, a three-year-old nonprofit organization. Market Street would be redeveloped as a “Main Street” with emphasis on retail, for example, while development along Cooper Street would play off of new construction by Rutgers University-Camden, Rowan University and Camden County College.

Federal Street, meanwhile, would be civic in nature, owing to existing and new government buildings. And Martin Luther King Boulevard would re-emerge as what local officials are calling a “tree-lined parkway.”

The plan, which incorporates an estimated $400 million already committed for projects by the three colleges, calls for a minimum of 16 new Downtown buildings. Also part of the initiative is the formation of a new business improvement district.

And like the Cramer Hill project, it’s expected to take up to a decade to be completed. The plan still requires final approval by the Camden Redevelopment Agency.

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