Prior to 1984, the central waterfront in Camden, N.J., consisted of primarily heavy industrial production facilities owned by Campbell Soup Company, RCA and a major rail yard and ferry system run by the Pennsylvania Reading Railroad Comp. By 1984, the railway infrastructure had been cleared away, and the production facilities were almost closed with employment at only a small fraction of what it once had been. As a result of the heavy industry and transportation uses, the waterfront was cut off from public access for more than 100 years.
In 1984, the three principal owners of the waterfront land--the City of Camden, Campbell Soup Company and RCA--jointly commissioned a planning study by the American Cities Corporation to evaluate the development potential of their collective holdings. As a result of this cooperative effort, Cooper’s Ferry Development Association (CFDA) was founded as a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to creating and implementing a vision for Camden’s downtown waterfront.
Based on this success, CFDA has also begun to partner with other communities in the city that face challenges in an effort to establish a new base of economic activity and to improve the quality of life. CFDA has been invited to enter into partnerships with the various neighborhood organizations to provide its technical assistance on the preparation and implementation of the neighborhood’s development plans while also strengthening its organizational capacity.