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Putting prison site under EDA control a good fit for agency

Authority already has a number of key Camden assets in its portfolio, like tech center, arena

The Waterfront Technology Center, in Camden, opened in 2006, but only recently got a new top floor that’s been designated as a wet lab. That’s now partially occupied by Drexel University.-(AARON HOUSTON)

When a new state law called for the Economic Development Authority to take control of the former Riverfront State Prison site, it put the land in the hands of one of Camden’s most prominent landlords.

The EDA’s real estate portfolio in the city includes assets like the L-3 Communications complex, the Waterfront Technology Center and the Susquehanna Bank Center. Those holdings go hand in hand with the Economic Recovery Board, the EDA’s funding arm for Camden, in guiding how “we have more resources — financial and human — dedicated to the city” than many other parts of the state.

“We do spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about trying to be helpful to the city,” said EDA President and Chief Operating Officer Timothy J. Lizura, whose agency ultimately will auction the 16-acre prison site to private developers.

The 100,000-square-foot technology center, which is almost fully leased, has helped anchor Camden’s waterfront since opening in 2006. About two years ago, the EDA completed a fifth floor that is being designated as a wet lab, and is now partially occupied by Drexel University.

“We’re in a good place with the waterfront tech center,” Lizura said. “Whenever you have office and other technology space, there’s always rollover. But we’ve got some ongoing conversations, which we think are pretty interesting.”

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On Twitter: @joshburdnj

Joshua Burd

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