Cooper’s Ferry Partnership looking for $500,000 to attract restaurant to Camden waterfront

In its quest to make the Camden waterfront a premier attraction, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership is looking to get a $500,000 grant to attract a new restaurant for the area.

The development nonprofit is developing a $9 million three-story building across from the Ferry Terminal Building on the waterfront. The building will serve as the nonprofit’s new headquarter space but the ground floor will be reserved for 4,500-square-foot restaurant space.

Most of the funding for the building has been secured but Cooper’s Ferry is now asking for a $500,000 grant from the Camden’s Urban Enterprise Zone office, one of 37 in the state established to stimulate economic development in struggling urban areas. The request was up for a vote at Tuesday’s city council meeting but the resolution to approve the grant was tabled after questions were raised on the number of Camden residents the project would hire. The resolution is expected to be on again for the December council meeting.

The Cooper’s Ferry project, which is already a few months behind schedule because of the economy, can’t move forward without a signed lease agreement from a restaurant, said Cooper’s Ferry vice president of policy and downtown initiatives Jake Gordon. And in order to attract the restaurant, Gordon says, the grant is needed.

At last week’s council caucus, Cooper’s Ferry officials said market price for restaurant space is about $350 per square foot. The idea is to use the grant to subsidize that by $125 per square foot.

Once a tenant is finalized, Cooper’s Ferry will be able to break ground on the project, Gordon said.