Camden, a former Flying Kite On the Ground
neighborhood, is "a pretty spectacular site, in basic real estate terms," enthuses developer Jackie Buhn, principal and CEO of the Philly-based AthenianRazak LLC
. Camden's burgeoning business and cultural sectors have Philadelphia right across the bridge, gorgeous views, coveted waterfront space and steep tax credits designed to anchor a range of industries there.
All those factors have led to the Ruby Match Factory
project. This 1899 waterfront warehouse has been getting buzz recently with the announcement of plans to renovate it into an airy mixed-use loft-style retail and office space -- the first of its kind in contemporary Camden. When completed, the 74,500 square-foot building (with a total of 71,000 square feet of offices and a planned 3,500 square-foot restaurant and art gallery) will have a newly added second level offering views of the entire space.
"It’ll be pretty dramatic," says Buhn.
The basic design of the building's interior is complete; it features open trusses and high ceilings, and room to accommodate eventual tenants' needs.
Part of the draw
for those future tenants is the Camden GROW NJ State Tax Credit Program
, an element of the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act
of 2013. According to the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
, these credits "provide unprecedented incentives for businesses to bring jobs to Camden – or keep them there."
Businesses with at least 35 employees (and companies in "targeted industries" with as few as 10 workers) leasing space in the city are eligible for these credits -- they can apply for them based on the number of jobs they’ll create in the fifteen years following their application. The credits can be applied to nonprofit and for-profit ventures alike.
According to Cooper’s Ferry, the credits can be worth between $10,000 and $15,000 per employee annually for 10 years. These aren’t given in cash, but awarded against New Jersey taxes owed. In the case of a business whose tax credit exceeds their tax obligation (Buhn points to nonprofits, which may not be aware of their eligibility for the program), the credits can be sold for cash, coming to about 90 percent of the credits' value.
So how does this factor into the price per square foot for companies paying rent in Camden? Cooper’s Ferry posits that a company with 100 employees is awarded an annual tax credit that averages to $12,500 per employee. If the profit from the sale of those credits is treated and taxed as capital gains (nonprofits are not subject to tax on the credits), that could amount to a net of $900,000 per year for 10 years -- or $9 million total. In light of that credit, if the building you’re leasing has about 175 square feet per worker, 17,500 square feet of space in Camden could mean paying just $51 per square foot in rent for 10 years.
In the case of the Ruby Match Factory's future tenants, Buhn argues that "because of the tax credits, it’s essentially free." They’ve run many different scenarios, and one came to just $4 per square foot per year for the life of the program.
"It’s a good deal, it’s a great location, and it’s a beautiful space," she adds.
Companies who want help determining their eligibility for the credits should call Cooper’s Ferry Partnership at 856-757-9154.
AthenianRazak can’t currently announce more details about the design or the tenants -- which are still being secured -- but once everything is in place, a "conservative" timeline for construction is just ten months.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Jackie Buhn, AthenianRazak; the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership
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