A $5.1 million grant for Rowan University to expand its downtown Camden campus was approved Thursday by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) board.
The grant will go toward the university’s $13.5 million redevelopment of the former First Camden National Bank and Trust building, a university spokesman said. The university purchased the property through eminent domain in 2009. After a court battle with the building’s owner, Rowan was forced to pay $4.45 million for the building and annex.
Rowan’s Camden enrollment has doubled to more than 800 students in recent years, with classes held in a building shared with Camden County at Broadway and Cooper, kitty-corner from the old bank. The expansion will allow Rowan to increase enrollment to more than 1,000 and offer additional bachelor’s degree programs, specifically in the areas of urban research and education.
This is the second major grant to Rowan in recent years from the Camden Economic Recovery Board, a subdivision of the state EDA. The Camden board was established during the state takeover to disburse $175 million in bonds for economic development projects in the city. Rowan received a $9 million grant from the ERB, toward the construction of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, a six-story, 200,000 sq. ft. academic medical research and education facility located in the Lanning Square neighborhood in Camden.
The Municipal Rehabilitation and Recovery Act of 2002 created four separate categories of funds for revitalization projects in Camden:
- $35 million Residential Neighborhood Improvement Fund
- $43 million Demolition and Redevelopment Financing Fund
- $45.8 million Downtown Revitalization and Recovery Fund
- $47.7 million Higher Education and Regional Health Care Development Fund