North Camden Neighborhood and Waterfront Park Plan
In 2006, Save Our Waterfront and other community organizations recognized that there had been a great deal of change within North Camden since the development of the original Neighborhood Plan in 1993. At that time, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) commissioned the development of the Riverfront State Prison Reuse Study, which looked for the first time at the reuse potential of North Camden’s waterfront based on the premise that the prison would be closing. The study invited a new way of thinking about not only the waterfront’s potential, but also about re-establishing connections between the River and the core neighborhood.
On the heels of the Prison Reuse Study, SOW determined that it was time to create an updated neighborhood plan reflective of this new potential and the community’s evolving hopes and priorities for the future. Together with its neighborhood partners, SOW raised funds, formed a steering committee and hired a consultant to complete a new comprehensive planning effort. The seven-month planning process engaged over 250 residents and 55 organizations on local, regional, and state-wide levels through a series of surveys, interviews, focus groups and public meetings.
The updated plan maintained the same guiding principles as the 1993 Plan:
• No displacement (community members will not be forced out of the neighborhood when more redevelopment occurs),
• Community control (community members must have influence in the redevelopment of the community),
• Employ local residents (new projects should attempt to hire North Camden residents for redevelopment projects), and
• Increased homeownership (owning a home deepens residents’ roots in the community).
In tandem with the planning process for the North Camden Neighborhood Plan, SOW worked with Cooer’s Ferry Partnership and other stakeholders on the development of the North Camden Waterfront Park Plan. With the support of the community, the City of Camden, and several funders, these two concurrent plans were created to guide North Camden’s future:
• The North Camden Neighborhood Plan focuses on the existing residential core of the community and the vacant land adjacent to the core neighborhood. This document represents the culmination of work dedicated to protecting and enhancing the lives of North Camden’s residents and identifying opportunities to strengthen the neighborhood.
• The North Camden Waterfront Park Plan identifies opportunities for creating a continuous, linear waterfront park around the community stretching from the Ben Franklin Bridge to the Cooper River.
The plans, together under one cover, were adopted by the Camden City Planning Board in August 2008. They present an extremely compelling vision for North Camden’s future; a community reconnected to the river, with a revitalized core, a green ribbon of parkland along its length and significant volumes of new housing development in between the two. The Plans received an Honor Award from the NJ Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a 2009 Smart Growth Award for Participatory Neighborhood Planning by NJ Futures.
Cooper’s Poynt Master Plan
In 2009-2010, the Riverfront State Prison, located on the North Camden waterfront just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge, was closed and demolished, creating an opportunity for the neighborhood to reconnect to the Delaware River. Concurrent with the prison’s demolition, SOW initiated an extensive community outreach process in North Camden around the reuse of the Riverfront State Prison site and the adjacent property. The outreach process generated input from community members about the redevelopment of the property and assisted in developing a detailed master plan. The master plan built upon the ideas of access and reconnection laid out in the Waterfront Park Plan, and was a necessary step in order to move on to the implementation process.
The master plan calls for the following, all of which were identified as priorities by the community:
• An extension of the existing east/west street grid and the development of two new north/south streets to the west of Delaware Ave.
• A public riverfront park accessible from new riverfront streets
• A linear park lining an extended State Street, connecting the riverfront to the existing community
• Mid-to-high rise mixed-use development fronting the waterfront park, decreasing in height and density closer to the existing neighborhood east of Delaware Ave.
Based on the vision spelled out in the Cooper’s Poynt Plan Master Plan, the City of Camden is currently undertaking a redevelopment study for this area to determine how to equitably zone and develop this important site going forward. SOW has facilitated multiple community meetings with the city’s design consultant in order to ensure that the community is able to provide input and guidance.