Momentum Builds on Camden’s Market Street with Support of EDA Small Business Grants
TRENTON, N.J. (July 16, 2018) – Several new small businesses will soon be adding to the resurgence of Market Street in Camden, once two property owners make improvements to five recently acquired properties. The improvements are supported by a grant program designed to help landlords and newly established businesses take advantage of increased economic momentum in select, legislatively designated urban areas of New Jersey, including parts of downtown Camden.
Improvements to the buildings, three of which are owned by Ashton Alexander Properties, LLC, and two by Market West 1 LLC, are being made with funding provided through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA’s) Business Improvement Incentive (BII) Program.
Together with the Business Lease Incentive (BLI) Program, the BII Program is designed to support the growth of first-floor retail and services businesses operating in eligible commercial areas of Garden State Growth Zones (GSGZ). The GSGZs are designated as Atlantic City, Camden, Passaic, Paterson and Trenton through the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act.
Administered by the EDA in collaboration with the GSGZs, the BII Program offers grants of up to 50 percent of total project costs for small businesses that are planning to make improvements to their properties. The grant amount cannot exceed $20,000, with a minimum project cost of $5,000. The program is available to first-floor businesses in targeted commercial corridors.
Ashton Alexander has been approved for three separate grants of up to $20,000 for each of its Market Street properties.
A fast-casual restaurant will occupy the first floor of 309 Market Street with office space on the remaining two floors. Renovation plans include replacing windows with high-strength glass and modernizing the framing of the doors and windows. The building will also have new signage and its brick facade will be repainted.
Just a short distance away, a three-story building at 423 Market Street will be repurposed as office space for several small businesses and a small takeout bakery/café on the first floor. The eatery will specialize in light baked goods, gourmet coffees and teas, and smoothies. Renovations to the first floor will include facade improvements, signage and an updated entrance that will be inviting to the public and will allow access to second and third floor businesses.
Among the tenants at 517-519 Market Street, directly across from Camden City Hall, will be a technical services company and a non-profit organization. Improvements to the building façade will include pressure washing and repainting, and installation of a new awning, windows and doors.
Market West 1’s properties at 223 and 225 Market Street will receive such improvements as new windows, doors and awnings. The two projects combined were approved for up to $19,000 in BII funding.
Nearby, another property owner, Damon Pennington, will soon open a restaurant at 315 Market Street, which received support from the BII Program when it and the BLI Program were originally offered only in Camden through the Economic Recovery Board (ERB). The ERB is a subsidiary of the EDA created under the Municipal Rehabilitation and Recovery Act, P.L. 2002 C. 43. The programs were relaunched in June 2017 and expanded to include the four additional cities.
Pennington is also developing the “Camden Arts Yard” in an adjacent vacant lot. The “pop-up” venue, opening this summer, will feature art, appetizers, and beverages, with the goal of attracting young professionals to the downtown area after business hours, adding to the “restaurant renewal” taking shape in downtown Camden.
“The influx of professionals in downtown Camden has created a need for places to go after work for good food, cocktails, and entertainment,” said Pennington. “The investment happening on Market Street has created a ripple effect that spurred the idea for the Camden Arts Yard, and we are optimistic that this will contribute to the emergence of this area as a vibrant lifestyle hub.”
In addition to the BII Program, the BLI Program offers reimbursement of fifteen percent of annual lease payments for two years to for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations in eligible areas that plan to lease between 500 and 5,000 square feet of new or additional market-rate, first-floor office, industrial or retail space for a minimum five-year term. An applicant leasing over 5,000 square feet can be eligible, but the BLI grant will only incentivize the first 5,000 square feet.
“With Subaru’s new headquarters taking shape at one end, and the new Waterfront Development rising at the other, Market Street businesses are seeing increased foot traffic and investors are recognizing new opportunities on Market Street and other downtown locations,” said Senior GSGZ Development Officer Christina Fuentes, who manages the BII and BLI programs for the EDA. “The BII and BLI programs are helping landlords and entrepreneurs establish and improve their businesses, supporting the revitalization of downtown areas in communities around the State.”
The BII and BLI programs were launched last year on a pilot basis and up to $200,000 is available per city, per year, over the three-year life of the programs. A detailed map of eligible locations in Camden is available at /wp-content/uploads/pdfs/GSGZ_Camden_Map.aspx.
The EDA offers a range of resources to support small business growth, including low-interest loans and bond financing. Visit www.njeda.gov/lending and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more.