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EDA approves $36.5M in incentives for Newark, Camden residential projects

Posted on 2/27/2014 by EDTP Coordinator in Small Business Policy

New Jersey’s revamped incentive programs have been put to work for the second time this month, this time for key residential projects in Newark and Camden and a new Dietz & Watson distribution center in Burlington County.

At a board meeting Monday, the state Economic Development Authority approved tax credits for projects in both cities under the expanded Economic Redevelopment and Growth program, the agency said in a news release.

A $23.1 million award will help finance the $95 million rehabilitation of a historic Newark skyscraper, once home to Rutgers Law School, for use as student housing for the university.

The other ERG award, worth up to $13.4 million, will support a $57 million project in Camden to renovate 175 homes on 22 different street fronts, the EDA said.

The board also approved a $3.1 million Grow New Jersey tax credit to help Dietz & Watson Inc. rebuild its warehouse and distribution center in Delanco. The cold cut maker has been operating in Philadelphia since a fire destroyed its facility last September, but the award will help it rebuild in Burlington County with a 160,000-square-foot cold storage building, new corporate offices and a fleet maintenance garage.

The $41 million project would create 213 new full-time jobs and help New Jersey retain 135 at-risk positions, the news release said.  The award is noteworthy because it’s the first Grow New Jersey “mega project” approved under last year’s Economic Opportunity Act — meaning the company was eligible for bonus incentives because the project is in a port district and meets higher capital investment and job thresholds.

The law, adopted in September, streamlined and strengthened New Jersey’s business and development incentives. One key goal was to make the ERG program the state’s main tool for residential projects, while Grow New Jersey would become its main job creator.

Demand for the new incentives has been so great that the EDA held two regular board meetings this month.

The Newark project is being overseen by New Brunswick Development Corp., or Devco, calling for the renovation of 15 Washington St. The 21-story, 263,000-square-foot building was originally completed in 1930 for American Insurance Co. and later donated to Rutgers, which used it to house the law school from 1978 to 1999.

The tower has sat vacant since then, but Devco’s plan would add more than 200,000 square feet of student housing, plus 52,000 square feet of office and non-student residential space, the news release said. The project stands to create some 200 construction jobs.

The Camden project would allow developers to renovate scores of vacant lots and blighted homes within a half-mile of the city’s business district, the EDA said. The dwellings were renovated in 1991 under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Section 8 program, and the project has been approved for a new 20-year Section 8 contract through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program.