Southern New Jersey Office Market

The office market in Southern New Jersey is flourishing. Since the beginning of 2002, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) has provided more than of $150 million in bond financing, loans, loan guarantees and environmental assistance grants to more than 235 businesses, not-for-profits and municipalities that are investing more than $300 million in New Jersey’s eight southernmost counties. Additionally, the EDA has executed 13 Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) grants, estimated at $5.8 million, to companies expanding or relocating in southern New Jersey. Included in this assistance were grants awarded to American Mortgage Express Corporation in Mount Laurel, McLane New Jersey Inc. in Upper Penns Neck, the Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation in Edgewater Park and The Sports Authority in Burlington City.

It’s impossible to talk about Southern New Jersey without mentioning the tremendous efforts that have taken place to revitalize the city of Camden under the Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act, which was enacted in 2002. The act created the Economic Recovery Board (ERB) for Camden as a subsidiary corporation within the EDA. The ERB’s 15-member board is responsible for the preparation of a Capital Improvement and Infrastructure Master Plan and Strategic Revitalization Plan that is turning around one of New Jersey’s poorest cities.

The Strategic Revitalization Plan focuses on economic revitalization including redevelopment of neighborhoods and downtown business districts, land use including housing and open space, port development, and recreation. Government operations have been reorganized, new investments have been made in infrastructure improvements, and many new development projects have been initiated that have led to improved public services and economic opportunities for Camden’s citizens.

The work is continuing. To date, more than $63 million in project financing from the ERB’s $175 million allocation has been approved for 22 Camden projects.

Keep an eye on the burgeoning Camden waterfront, a gateway to the long technology corridor that runs through New Jersey. Its reputation is growing as a prime technology location convenient to a pool of talented people, other tech companies, universities and medical research centers.

A significant Southern New Jersey project and one in which the EDA is involved is the Waterfront Technology Center at Camden. The 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility has been designed exclusively to accommodate the work of both experienced businesses and startups in the biosciences, microelectronics, advanced materials, information technology, and other high-tech and life sciences fields. The building, now under construction, will offer affordable production, laboratory and office space that can be customized in flexible unit sizes (starting at 5,000 square feet) and configurations to handle individual operating requirements and special needs of tenants. It will add to the growing technology hub that is building in the Camden region.

Much of this area is also part of the Camden Innovation Zone, a technology neighborhood that has been established by executive order to spur collaboration among the state’s public research universities, medical research facilities and technology businesses to encourage the more rapid transfer of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. Camden and locations in the Newark and New Brunswick regions were chosen as innovation zones because of their concentration of existing technology assets as well as commercialization centers planned or developed by the EDA. Several EDA programs have been modified to offer specialized assistance to support businesses and partnerships within these zones.

From the EDA’s perspective, the closing of an innovative bond issue to refinance the L-3 Communications Corporation project along the Camden waterfront continues to be an important catalyst for the technology development of the entire region. The EDA issued $43 million in taxable, variable-rate lease revenue refunding bonds in late 2002 to refinance at lower interest rates bonds issued by the Authority in 1992 and to retire a portion of the public investment in the project. The lower interest rates of the new bond issue resulted in the finalization of a long-term rental agreement with L-3 Communications, a major supplier to the U.S. government and private industry of secure communications systems now leasing the property. The new 15-year lease will keep the company and 950 high-paying, high-tech engineering and manufacturing jobs in the area until at least 2018.

Frank Lucchesi, Project Officer, New Jersey Economic Development Authority

©2004 France Publications, Inc. Duplication or reproduction of this article not permitted without authorization from France Publications, Inc. For information on reprints of this article contact Barbara Sherer at (630) 554-6054.

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