CAMDEN, NJ, February 27, 2008 – Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) today announced it will move forward with plans to invest up to $72 million to expand and enhance its facilities and to serve as master redeveloper of an office park in Camden’s Gateway District, as part of a revitalization effort with the city, county and state.
Campbell President and CEO Douglas R. Conant said, “We always said that we would do what’s in the best interest of our shareowners and employees, while trying to have a positive impact on Camden, our home for more than 140 years. We have considered many options, but have decided that our goal is to remain in Camden. We are prepared to begin constructing our new building as soon as possible, and look forward to helping revitalize the area by developing an office park in the city. Working with our partners in the city, county and state, we have created a new plan that meets our needs and delivers many benefits of the original proposal.”
Under a revised agreement with the state of New Jersey, the city and county of Camden, and the Camden Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Campbell will build an 80,000-square-foot employee services building as originally planned. The new project development agreement (PDA), which is slated to be voted on in March, will not include an amendment to re-zone the city’s current Gateway Redevelopment Plan from “light/industrial office” to “office campus zone.” Additionally, the new plan will not add the Sears building to the list of properties to be acquired as part of the efforts to develop an office park to attract business tenants to the city. The new PDA will require the approval of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the CRA, the state Department of Transportation, and the city and county of Camden.
“The State is committed to Camden’s redevelopment, and we are pleased Campbell has chosen to keep its headquarters in the city and will move forward with a revised plan that is intended to bring many benefits to the region, including much needed office space, redevelopment of an underutilized area, and the potential for increased ratables, economic development, and new jobs,” said Gary Rose, Chief of the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth.
The revised plan will bring many of the benefits of the original plan. Details include:
- Revitalization – The proposed office park will sit on approximately 100 acres, with Campbell’s campus anchoring the development on approximately 40 acres. The proposed office park would occupy parcels that previously contained vacant and neglected buildings, empty parking lots and other parcels not currently being utilized.
- Development – The proposed office park will now accommodate up to approximately 200,000 square feet of office space, compared to the 500,000 square feet originally planned. Campbell will be the master redeveloper of the area and will work with state and local officials to attract developers and other businesses to Camden.
- Improved Roadways and Utilities – The state, city and county plan to invest in the area’s infrastructure to improve roads and upgrade the water and sewer service to support the office park.
- Greenways – Campbell has allocated a portion of its land to Camden Greenways, an organization dedicated to helping preserve the natural areas along the rivers that run through Camden. The land will be used to create multi-use public access trails and pathways.
“While we believe the original proposal represents the best development opportunity for the Gateway District, we are prepared to move forward with a revised plan,” said Robert Zane, Vice President, Real Estate Operations, Campbell Soup Company. “We have acquired a sufficient amount of real estate in the area to proceed with plans to develop an office park.”
Campbell is already making progress on the project. The company used its own funds to acquire vacant buildings (the former laundry and elevator facilities within the Gateway District between 11th Street and Admiral Wilson Boulevard). Both buildings have been razed to clear the way for eventual redevelopment of those parcels.
Removing the Sears building from the list of properties to be acquired will enable Ilan Zaken, the building’s current owner, to restore the vacant and long-neglected building. Mr. Zaken, who has outlined his intention to move his operations into the building, has indicated he would invest approximately $1 million in repairs. Campbell has estimated the cost of repairing the building at more than $6 million, based on inspections conducted by environmental, engineering, and construction experts. Zaken took ownership of the building in October 2007.
To move forward with the revised project, Campbell has decided not to appeal the New Jersey Superior Court’s decision in January that voided the Camden Planning Board’s approval of the company’s new building based on the Chairman of the Planning Board’s apparent conflict of interest.
As part of the new development plan, Campbell will refile its applications with the city for site subdivision, building variances, and street vacations later today. The Camden Planning Board and the Camden City Council will hold public meetings on the project.
Campbell’s new, environmentally friendly employee services building will include a cafeteria, fitness center, a company store and credit union, as well as office space and conference rooms. These will be relocated from existing Campbell buildings.
Located in Camden since its founding in 1869, Campbell is the longest-standing corporate tenant and the only Fortune 500 company in Camden. Campbell has long been an active participant in Camden’s redevelopment through numerous initiatives, including its ongoing activities through the Campbell Soup Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting organizations that inspire positive change in the communities where Campbell operates. On average, the Foundation contributes more than $1 million annually to Camden nonprofits. Additionally, Campbell employees contribute thousands of volunteer hours and significant cash donations to local charities, including the United Way of Camden County.
About Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Soup Company is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup, baked snacks, and vegetable-based beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including “Campbell’s,” “Pepperidge Farm,” “Arnott’s,” and “V8.” For more information on the company, visit Campbell’s website at www.campbellsoup.com.
Anthony Sanzio (Media)
Campbell Soup Company