Cooper-Grant/Central Waterfront is made up of very distinct and somewhat isolated components – downtown employers, waterfront attractions, institutional campuses, a port and industrial district, and residential neighborhoods tucked in between. Over the years, downtown Camden and the waterfront have benefited from planning and investment focused on building regional destinations that attract visitors, workers, and students. New companies downtown and the growing strength of the education and health care sectors are providing new economic drivers and bringing more people downtown. However, this has not yet translated to a lively downtown where a concentration of people live and go out to shops and restaurants.
Recognizing a need for community-driven neighborhood planning Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Cooper-Grant Neighborhood Association, and Rutgers University-Camden partnered to expand on the strengths of Cooper-Grant/Central Waterfront in support of a mixed use downtown that is more active and connected. The neighborhood action plan includes the voices and vision of the people who live downtown in the transformative change that Camden is undergoing to ensure that the revitalization of neighborhoods is part and parcel of the revitalization of the City of Camden as a whole.
To engage a hard to reach population, including very low income and low mobility families and seniors, the planning partners organized a holiday party (and interactive planning forum) at the Adventure Aquarium with shuttle bus service. Children were encouraged to participate with easy and fun activities.
Over the last century, pedestrian-scale blocks and the residential fabric of downtown have given way to corporate and institutional campuses and parking.
The plan developed recommendations to connect the community physically and socially, upgrade and better integrate the industrial port district, build a market for mixed residential development, and plan for a more resilient waterfront.