Trenton – Richard McGrath, spokesperson for Senate President Steve Sweeney, issued the following statement on the accounts of efforts to bring a supermarket to Camden:
“The story published last week by Politico regarding the attempts to secure a grocery store in Camden was largely inaccurate and the statements of activists so badly distort the article and the facts as to make them completely false.
“In order to eliminate any confusion: NEITHER super market project, as proposed, relied upon tax incentives, nor was there a provision in the 2013 EOA that “blocked” the development of what was at that point a five-year old proposal in favor of another. Both proposed projects failed due to market forces.
“In 2008, Grapevine Development first presented what would have been the largest development in Camden proposed in the late 2000s – 220,000 square feet of office space, 400 houses, a grocery store, retail and a parking garage. There was not, at that time nor at any other time, a stand-alone grocery store proposed. To be clear: this project was proposed more than five years before the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) was signed into law in 2013, and a grocery store was just a small part of it. The simple fact is that the project failed because it never secured tenants or the proper financing for it to become a reality. There is no conceivable way to truthfully assert that this project was blocked by the EOA.
“Equally important is the fact that the Ravitz family project on Admiral Wilson Boulevard was announced more than six months prior to the passage of the EOA in September of 2013. That project did not move forward because Wakefern Food Corp. rejected the proposal, even though it was eligible for tax incentives.
“The fact that neither of these projects came to fruition is disappointing for Camden, but to say there was a conspiracy at work so one site was favored over another is nothing more than fiction. Their separate failures were nothing more than classic cases of market forces dictating the outcomes of ill-fated projects.
“It is disappointing that the Politico story painted an inaccurate picture of what happened, but it is unacceptable that activists and vested interests are simply saying things that are untrue. We hope and expect that will stop now.”