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Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation is dedicated to building a thriving, safe, family-oriented community that is economically and culturally diverse. Cramer Hill Community Development Corporation believes that development is most successful when there is continuous input from residents. It works toward these goals by advocating for the rights and needs of all Cramer Hill residents, by fostering resident leadership and civic engagement, by creating affordable housing, strengthening economic opportunity and by improving the quality of life in Cramer Hill.
Cramer Hill CDC was organized as a non-profit corporation in January 10, 2003, and received tax-exempt charitable status on October 24, 2003. Cramer Hill CDC began as a neighborhood advisory council of organizations in order to undertake a neighborhood planning process and spur neighborhood revitalization. The organization very successfully oversaw a neighborhood planning process, producing the plan titled Cramer Hill Tomorrow, which was appended to the City's master plan during the fall of 2004. At the same time, Cherokee Investment Partners was named master developer for Cramer Hill, and in order to bring substantial investment for the brownfields remediation and development to the neighborhood, the redevelopment plan calls for substantial relocation of Cramer Hill residents. The CDC has responded by tailoring its mission toward equitable development in Cramer Hill, and in late 2004, it hired a new executive director with affordable housing and economic development experience. The CDC is now working closely with the City and Redevelopment Authority on the Nueva Vida Homes replacement housing project and other efforts to ensure redevelopment efforts provide concrete benefits for current Cramer Hill residents.
In addition to its current housing project, with its partners, since 2002, the CDC has leveraged approximately $4 million dollars for its activities as well as a range of infrastructure projects in Cramer Hill. These include commercial corridor revitalization, waterfront brownfields assessments, flood mitigation, and transit development. The CDC is now also embarking on addressing community facility needs in Cramer Hill.
Commercial Corridor Revitalization
The CDC is focused on revitalizing the central commercial node of River Road. The CDC's partner, Cooper's Ferry Development Association received $500,000 from the Department of Transportation and $695.000 from Camden Economic Recovery Board (ERB) for a streetscape project, the first phase of which will revitalize River Road between 23nd and 27th Streets. The design phase of this project is underway and construction will begin in early 2007. Finally, the CDC is supporting the growth of the Cramer Hill Business Association, and has raised $35,000 of matching funds for façade improvement along River Road and plans to seek additional funds from the ERB.
Waterfront Planning and Environmental Remediation Education
In partnership with Coopers Ferry Development Association (CFDA), the CDC raised $500,000 for the City to conduct environmental investigations along the 150 acre Cramer Hill waterfront. The CRA eventually took over from CFDA and the CDC in supervising these investigations, four of which are now complete, and due out shortly. The CDC and CFDA were also successful in getting the state to designate Cramer Hill as a state pilot "brownfield development area".
Storm Water Management
CDC organizational members, including Coopers Ferry Development Association and Camden Neighborhood Renaissance, have worked to study this problem and raised, through federal appropriations, $1 million from the US EPA for flood mitigation in Von Neida Park on behalf of the City. An RFP for the environmental study due is out shortly.
New Jersey Transit recently completed South Jersey Light Rail Transit System, which will runs between Camden to Trenton, passes through at grade, but does not presently stop, in the Cramer Hill neighborhood. CFDA and CHCDC successfully lobbied for close to $1 million of NJDOT funding for this new station stop at River Avenue. The CDC and its partners also raised $60,000 to retain McCormick Taylor for a preliminary study of transit improvements in Cramer Hill. The CDC and CFDA later worked to ensure that DVRPC & NJDOT included truck rerouting from River Road in their $350,000 feasibility study of transit improvements in Cramer Hill. The planning and engineering firm McCormick Taylor is now in the final stages of its study, which provides a 4-tier approach to reducing truck traffic, the first stage of which should begin by the end of the year.
Future activities will expand the CDC's scope to address the lack of community facilities in Cramer Hill. The CDC is working with Camden Churches Organized for People, for example, to find a site for a Boys and Girls Club. And the organization is exploring ways to preserve a 1790s farmhouse built by Samuel Cooper in Cramer Hill that was a stop on the A-1 line of the Underground Railroad. The CDC recently contracted with a preservation architect to undertake preliminary architectural and archeological analysis of the house and explore potential museum and educational uses. The organization has also submitted a $750,000 appropriations request to Senators Corzine and Lautenberg for further analysis and to undertake the actual restoration work.
- Mariza Montes
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