By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — The historic Ablett Village Garden Apartments in Camden City will soon see revitalization thanks to a $35 million federal Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Marcia Fudge along with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Congressman Donald Norcross, Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver, Camden County Commissioner Al Dyer and Camden City Mayor Vic Carstarphen announced the award of the funds to rejuvenate the gateway to the city’s Cramer Hill neighborhood on June 2 in the city.
County Commissioner and Camden educator, Al Dyer, talked about growing up in the city and how impactful these funds will be on his former home.
“Growing up in Ablett was challenging when I was younger, the environment was tough and across the street from the complex was a landfill that was a stain on our neighborhood,” Dyer said. “Now, with the $35 million investment by HUD to improve and enhance the housing and the state’s investment to turn the landfill into a waterfront park the impact on the community will be immeasurable.”
Ablett Village is a 306-unit garden apartment complex built in 1943. The units and the property are managed by the Housing Authority of Camden City.
“Since its creation, the Choice Neighborhoods initiative has transformed communities across the nation,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. “Today’s announcement will support the local vision for reinvigorating communities and increase opportunity—whether it be with regard to housing, health, education, childcare, or jobs. I applaud Camden for its commitment to ensuring affordable housing serves as a platform for community innovation and individual advancement.”
The neighborhood plan incorporates redevelopment, rehabilitation, and infill housing strategies as the basis for overall neighborhood transformation with a focus on creating new connections along key corridors that link residential areas with schools, open space, transit, and retail amenities. With the grant, the Housing Authority of the City of Camden (HACC) will create 350 energy-efficient, mixed-income housing units. The plan also includes a community garden with locally sourced produce, a walking trail, community center, playgrounds, and expanded transit and pedestrian infrastructure.
“This $35 million award we’re announcing today will help Camden realize its plan to replace distressed housing in the Cramer Hill neighborhood and ultimately improve the quality of life for the residents of Ablett Village,” Menendez said. “The City and Housing Authority have put forward a visionary plan that includes building 350 new, energy-efficient units, including 21 additional low-income apartments; improving pedestrian infrastructure and access to mass transit; providing recreational opportunities, including a new community center, playgrounds for children, and walking trails; and even creating a garden for locally-sourced produce. These are exactly the kind of investments that will attract more businesses to the area and connect the residents of Cramer Hill to greater job opportunities.”
Norcross talked about his dedication to deliver federal funds that will make a difference in the lives of residents living in the community.
“Today’s announcement highlights our collective commitment to ensuring residents of Camden not only have affordable, safe places to call home but have access to jobs, quality education and economic opportunities,” Norcross said. “Urban communities like Camden City have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and these vital funds will go a long way to ensure that Ablett Village can provide the services that residents need and transform this neighborhood for generations to come. I was glad to work with community leaders and residents to support this grant and congratulate the city on this major achievement.”
In 2016, Sens. Menendez and Booker and Rep. Norcross announced a $13.2 million Implementation Grant to revitalize the city’s Centerville neighborhood with a project rebuilding the Branches neighborhood after the project initially received a $300,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2012.
Outside of the Ablett Village’s community center Camden City Mayor, Vic Carstarphen talked about how this grant will advance his objective and vision.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Secretary Marcia Fudge to the City of Camden, and to celebrate HUD’s decision to invest in Ablett Village and the surrounding neighborhood of Cramer Hill,” Carstarphen said. “We are also thankful to Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Cory Booker, and Congressman Norcross for supporting our vision of a stronger community fabric here, one that includes beautiful homes for residents, safer and friendlier streets, and exciting economic opportunities for all. On behalf of all residents here in Ablett Village and Cramer Hill, I am incredibly honored.”
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