Saturday, November 28, 2015

Camden's vacant lots holding up some proposed new businesses

The creation of the Camden Business Growth and Development team a year ago has yielded very few new businesses and development projects. Issues with vacant lots are holding up some additional projects.

Camden's vacant lots holding up some proposed new businesses

Future site of Broadway Bistro?
Future site of Broadway Bistro?

As I wrote in Tuesday's Inquirer, the creation of the Business Growth and Development team a year ago has yielded very few new businesses and development projects in Camden. STORY HERE.

Here's a reason why: Camden High alum John Yingling saw that the city was on the verge of a rebirth and started looking into property he could buy to open up a modern bistro. He found 525 Broadway to be the perfect location. It is just two blocks away from the soon-to-open Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and on a main corridor of the city.

However, a lot that he would need for the project has an owner that is nowhere to be found. As I explain in my article, because the lot is vacant the city cannot take it through spot-blight eminent domain and turn it over to Mr. Yingling.

The Provincetown resident joins what is probably a lengthy list of entrepreneurs interested in Camden who get stuck at the initial stages of the deal when they can't find a property owner to negotiate with. And the tax liens are usually too high for some potential investors to purchase at a tax sale.

Not too long ago, I wrote about Camden business owner Lorng Chhour's frustrations with not being able to purchase a vacant lot she wanted to open a second laundromat.  

City ombudsman Vince Basara told me at the time that city council has the power to reduce the liens to market value. But the council is reluctant to do that, Basara said, because the market value would be very low.

Until a solution is figured out, Yingling's Broadway Bistro will likely remain its current vacant shell (see picture):

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About this blog

Allison Steele writes about Camden’s schools, government and businesses. Most importantly, she writes about the city’s residents. She is a former crime reporter who covered the Camden and Philadelphia police departments for the Inquirer. A Philly native, she has been with the Inquirer since 2008.

Send comments, tips and story ideas to, call 856-779-3876, or reach out on Twitter @AESteele.

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