As promised, Rutgers-Camden’s newest residence hall, on Cooper Street, will house three businesses at street level — a 7-Eleven, a Subway, and a Three Chiles Grill.
The eateries will be accessible to the public and offer job opportunities for 35 to 55 people, according to Rutgers-Camden.
“Each business anticipates maintaining day and evening hours; 7-Eleven will be open 24 hours daily,” the university says in a news release.
But wait. The 7-Eleven will be open 24 hours?
The city passed a strict business curfew last year.
The ordinance, intended to help curb crime, requires businesses in residential zones or within 200 feet of a residential zone to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekends. It went into effect Sept. 19.
City activist Frank Fulbrook, along with some late-night business operators, filed a lawsuit against the curfew last fall. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Wednesday. I don’t know if it actually happened. (It’s been delayed quite a few times; see story HERE.)
The city has yet to enforce the curfew, but enforcement conversations were revived by the slaying of a bystander about 5 a.m. April 27 inside a 24-hour takeout restaurant at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Broadway.
City spokesman Robert Corrales said at the time that Mayor Dana L. Redd was planning a special outreach effort to all the curfew-affected businesses before commencing enforcement.
To my knowledge that has yet to happen.
Just last week, I was speaking with City Councilman Brian Coleman and he brought up the curfew and lamented that the city administration had yet to enforce it.
“They just dropped the ball on the ordinance,” he said.
Interestingly, the Fulbrook lawsuit, which was filed the day before the ordinance went into effect Sept. 19, was consolidated in April with a similar lawsuit filed by the 7-Eleven corporation. The 7-Eleven at Rutgers will be the third in the city. The two others are on Federal Street.
Both suits are scheduled to be heard together by Camden Superior Court Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina.
7-Eleven argues that the city curfew is unconstitutional, arbitrary, and capricious.
“It would be curtailing the hours that 7-Eleven is built on,” company spokeswoman Margaret Chabris told me in May. Reached at her corporate offices in Texas Friday, Chabris said she needed to check with company attorneys on the lawsuit.
In the meantime, the city’s newest 7-Eleven is gearing up to open at Rutgers in time to greet arriving students.
The $55 million residence hall, built by the Camden County Improvement Authority and owned by Rutgers, will house 350 students, according to a Rutgers news release.
“The city is proud to welcome 7-Eleven and Subway to Camden and historic Cooper Street,” Redd said in the Rutgers news release.
“These new business additions are yet another example that Camden is on the rise and open for business opportunities,” she said.
As long as it’s not for 24 hours?
The Mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.