The Camden, NJ has a huge parking crater extending from the waterfront to downtown. Now the city’s Parking Authority wants to hollow out downtown even more:
When the Parking Authority of the City of Camden decided it wanted to tear down the decades-old Commerce Building in the heart of downtown to put up a parking garage, it made an offer far below the property owner’s expectations.
The Estate of Milton Rubin, a real estate investor in the city, had been paying property taxes on an assessment of $1.66 million, and in 2007 had prepared to sell it for $4.5 million.
The Parking Authority’s offer came in considerably lower.
In a letter in June, the agency raised the specter of eminent domain as it offered minus $200,000 – essentially asking the estate to part with the building and pay on top of it.
“There’s just a level of some inexplicable absurdity here,” Robert S. Baranowski, attorney for the estate, said last week. “I’d love to go around taking people’s property and telling them they have to pay me to do it.”
“Absurd” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The property sits one block from a PATCO subway station, and is across the street from the Walter Rand Transportation Center (an intermodal station with rail and bus service). It is the last place where a city should be replacing buildings with parking.