A massive vacant lot along Camden's Admiral Wilson Boulevard is going to be transformed from an eyesore to a key landmark in the city's hoped-for revitalization.
Large-scale commercial development, including a huge, 75,000-square-foot ShopRite supermarket, is coming to a 20-acre parcel of real estate right across from the Cooper River.
The supermarket is much-needed here. Camden has long been labeled a food desert, an area where fresh foods are not easily accessible.
"ShopRite will be Camden's first full-service supermarket in over 30 years and will anchor a planned 20-acre retail shopping center," said Camden Mayor Dana Redd.
The developer says Phase 1, shown in an artist's conception, will be complete within two years.
The entire project will first create hundeds of construction jobs and then much-needed permanent jobs for Camden residents.
"There will be restaurants, there will be fashion, there will be shoes, there'll be probably dental or medical services, things of that order," said developer Ken Goldenberg of The Goldenberg Group.
The owners of the ShopRite will be the Ravitz Brothers, whose family has been in the supermarket business for four generations.
They own five ShopRites in south Jersey and are confident they can make a go of it in the inner city, where others have failed or refused to tread.
"To say it bluntly, we don't fail. We know how to run a store," said Jason Ravitz.
Camden's landscape is dominated by mom-and-pop corner grocery stores, known frequently as bodegas.
We found their customers looking forward to more jobs available because of the development, and to cheaper food prices as well.
"That's a good idea. Buy more cheaply, more money for your pocket," said Camden resident Rosa Arias.
A city spokesman says the project will receive some type of public assistance but funding details are still to be worked out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.