Demolition program hopes to bring new life to Camden

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Camden officials have big plans to revitalize the city with new businesses. (WPVI)

Camden officials have big plans to revitalize the city with new businesses. But before they can build, they have to demolish hundreds of abandoned homes.

This morning Mayor Dana Redd sat in the cab of a mechanical excavator and took the first bite out of 1510 Louis Street.

It was the beginning of a planned $9 million effort by the city to demolish 590 plus abandon buildings that often become drug stash houses.

Congressman Donald Norcross said at a ceremony today, "These are crime factories. This is where things that we read about in the paper start to occur."

1510 Louis Street has such a history.

Camden County Police Chief John Thomson explains, "We pulled a gun safe out that had a gun in there, packaging material for narcotics and drugs in of itself."

After tearing down the derelict buildings the long term goal to attract developers to build more attractive market rate housing.

Camden has enticed employers, like the site where Subaru will locate. The hope is that some workers will want to live in town.

To succeed, developers say Camden will have to copy Philadelphia's example by offering tax abatements to new home buyers.

Mayor Redd says that's being considered.

Redd tells us, "I know Northern Liberties is popping. I have been there to visit to see things happening there in Philadelphia. I think Camden's on the cutting edge in that we have great partners at the table. And I would say it's in short order - it's definitely being discussed, debated."

Existing residents are hopeful.

Resident Felix Dunn says, "With better housing we will have less drug trafficking, less this and that. But it's going to make the community a better community."

However, residents also say more jobs are a must.

Dennis Hitchens of Camden says job creation would, "get a lot of people off the streets. People want jobs."

By mid-afternoon Tuesday 1510 Louis Street was reduced to a pile of rubble. For the new city demolition program it was one down, 592 to go.
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n.j. newsdemolitioneconomyCamden
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