Neighborhood Commercial Expansion Initiative (NCEI)
The Neighborhood Commercial Expansion Initiative (NCEI)
is the second of two strategic thrusts of LAEDA's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (LCEDS)
targeted at Growing the Marketplace
in the commercial districts of the City of Camden. The success of the LCEDS hinges on the revitalization of the commercial districts into vibrant marketplaces that draw customers from the city's neighborhoods, surrounding communities and visitors of the waterfront attractions. The success of these districts is impeded by the lack of a good inventory of commercial real estate ready for occupancy via purchase or lease. Further impediments to the success of these districts is the condition of pedestrian amenities like sidewalks, benches, landscaping and lighting combined with available parking and good way finding.
As part of LCEDS, NCEI responds to the work of the Commercial District Revitalization Initiative (CDRI)
and merchants and stakeholder leadership by identifying strategic development opportunities needed to enhance the market's physical capacity to accommodate approved revitalization strategies while stimulating private investment in advance of the market. With the development of new retail space and improved marketplace economic growth, LAEDA Business Service Center (LBSC)
then identifies EDTP graduate businesses and recruits new businesses in line with CDRI strategies to move into the space.
Examples of NCEI projects would be commercial building redevelopment and new construction, parking area development, streetscape improvements and facade improvements.
Neighborhood Commercial Expansion Initiative (NCEI) is an effort to expand the amount of commercial retail, office and institutional space where applicable in the various commercial districts throughout the City of Camden. This is achieved through the identification and development of strategic commercial developments with an eye towards laying the real estate infrastructure needed to stimulate an entrepreneurial environment and private investment.
Community Focused Development
LAEDA has been a community partner for over 20 years. Throughout its history LAEDA has worked to ensure that each undertaking has direct measurable benefits to the community. Under the NCEI, LAEDA is committed to continue this effort in four major areas:
- Contribution to City of Camden Tax Base - LAEDA recognizes the importance of the tax base to the overall economic health of the city. LAEDA will make it a priority where possible to undertake projects that will lead to the creation of tax ratables to the city.
- Stimulate Local Economic Opportunities - LAEDA is committed to the use of contractors and source materials for its projects through Camden based businesses.
- Building Wealth Through Ownership - LAEDA sees building long-term wealth as a key component of its community focused strategy. Where financially feasible LAEDA will strive to design its projects to be marketable for purchase.
- Community-Based Business Creation - The idea of community-based business creation and LAEDA have been joined throughout LAEDA's history. A priority in the occupancy of LAEDA projects will be toward business created from the community of Camden, primarily through LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program.
Driving the Need for Commercial Development
The condition of the commercial real estate in the commercial districts varies from vacant and abandoned buildings requiring substantial rehab and newly constructed retail space that is targeted to larger chain operators. Small scale opportunities are missing in this range.
The need for the expansion of commercial real estate varies from one district to the next.
- Some districts exhibit healthy commercial activity with room for further expansion and the need to add infrastructure like parking areas to accommodate further growth.
- Others have commercial real estate inventories that suffer from disinvestment & abandonment constraining the potential for commercial activity to the point of creating a stagnant market environment.
- Others are enveloped in redevelopment activities requiring large amounts of businesses relocation. With very few relocation options within these districts, small operators are forced out of the market in which they are successful, which could lead to their failure.
- And still others have become dispersed due to historical land use changes requiring the need to reconnect the dots.
Why Commercial Real Estate Development?
Quality commercial real estate available for lease has been a major impediment to graduates of LAEDA's Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) with the desire to open their business in the City of Camden as well as new businesses entering the marketplace.
Due to the generally poor condition of the commercial real estate in the commercial districts, what would be a simple transaction of placing a security deposit on a lease and setting up a showroom or business operation has become a major capital intensive undertaking. This undertaking would include purchasing a building, redeveloping that building and then setting up a business. This capital intensive path creates a high risk proposition for nascent entrepreneurs and business investors thus forcing them to look else where to make their investments.
By redeveloping existing commercial inventory and building new space, NCEI will ease the path to investment by introducing Class "A" retail space into the marketplace for both lease and purchase. This expansion of inventory combined with a coordinated recruitment approach through LBSC and marketplace development through CDRI will create the dynamic economic forces needed to stimulate entrepreneurial investment.