For those who keep current with Camden news, it has been believed that the Radio Lofts building, located at 2nd and Cooper Street, was deemed dangerous and a threat to human safety as of this past August, 2014. That isn’t the truth anymore. Upon receiving more documents from the City of Camden via an Open Public Records Request, the building has actually been deemed dangerous since at least 2004.
Why is this important?
It is important because the City and the Camden Redevelopment Authority have been aware of the Radio Lofts’ hazardous condition for at least 11 years now. It isn’t as if the Radio Lofts are located in a desolate section of the city. This building sits in what the City calls the “Business and University District”.
A RiverLine station also sits at the foot of the building, placing passengers and residents in danger every day while waiting for the train.
As you can see, the debris falls frighteningly close to where RiverLine passengers stand.
It also appears as though the building has already had a few tussles with the RiverLine Station’s awning.
Motorists who use Cooper Street in order to get to a place like, oh I don’t know, Rutgers-Camden, appear to have also been in danger for at least 11 years since the 2004 citation ordered the curb lanes of 2nd and Cooper Streets to be closed due to bricks and debris falling off of the building. This citation also places every RiverLine passenger on the train as it passes the building at risk as well, since the train tracks make up the curb lane of Cooper Street.
This is important because it seems as though this building is a well documented, political, and expensive catastrophe waiting to happen. The City of Camden also provided me with the knowledge that no fines have been levied against the Camden Redevelopment Authority (the owner of the building), nor Dranoff Properties (the owner of the building’s redevelopment rights). In theory, more than $1.1 Million in fines could have so far been levied due to a lack of action to correct the issues with the building. That $1.1 Million sum could come in handy after someone does get hurt because of this building, due to the probable filing of a hellacious lawsuit after more than a decade of documentation.
This is also important because we still do not know anything about the interior stability of the building, despite my request for both interior and exterior inspections. Perhaps there has not been one of those…
I understand that the City of Camden, as a whole, has an incredible issue with decrepit and dangerous structures. The magnitude of the problem is truly amazing. One would think that abandoned structures would be a No. 1 priority from the State down to the municipal government. But that hasn’t been the case, especially when we consider legislative initiatives that have pledged hundreds of million of tax dollars to constructing brand new structures for already multi-million-dollar-profiting industries, such as the Philadelphia 76ers. I also understand how inconvenient and financially taxing it would be to close the Cooper Street RiverLine station. But, when human safety is at risk, who cares? Do it!
By focusing on the Radio Lofts, I don’t want to take away the attention that is needed from the structures in Bergen Square. I don’t want to supersede what is needed in Fairview. I do, though, want to let New Jersey know what all of Camden needs right now, which is enough money to protect the people from debris and collapsing buildings. I do want New Jersey to see which interests are taken as priorities and which ones are cast to the back burner. I do want to prevent my friends, peers, and professors from getting injured while commuting to work or school. I do want this building dealt with, once and for all, no matter how politically and financially inconvenient it may be.