Developers from North Jersey’s Capodagli development company in mid-January presented an idea for a large and modern multi-story building on Gloucester City’s Freedom Pier area.
This is not a formal project submission, but the developer Capodagli of North Jersey, has been working with the town as the named “Conditional Redeveloper” of the project.
The name Meridia is also attached to the development, which is Capodagli’s internal leasing and asset management team.
The presentation was sponsored by the Gloucester City Business Association, who invited their members and the Mayor and Council. The general public was not made aware of this meeting, but the Mayor said more meetings will be offered which will include the public and press.
The project area is the “Freedom Pier” on Gloucester City waterfront and extends to King Street.
The pier is a large rectangular solid land mass that juts out from the mainland, which decades ago was home to a portion of a now closed Coast Guard Base. It is located close to the Holt complex.
The Freedom Pier property is mostly clear of other development.
In 2011 Gloucester City upgraded the Freedom Pier to include a walkway, fencing, benches and more.
For that 2011 project, Consulting Engineer Services did the design and specifications for the core aspects. This included over 3,000 total feet of walkway along the Delaware River
Gloucester City Waterfront Preview Meeting
42Freeway has the presentation material which is several slides specific to the developer and their other New Jersey projects, and one slide showing the Gloucester City property artist rendering.
What we didn’t have is details regarding what was discussed, but Bill Cleary over at CNBNews wrote his piece Monday night on the development which included additional details, some of which we will share here.
It will extend from the water’s edge back to King Street. The first floor would house shoppes and a restaurant. Built on the top of those businesses would be one bedroom condominiums.CNBNews Description of the Meridia Capodagli Project at the Gloucester City Waterfront
To be clear, this was not a Planning Board presentation. It seems Capodagli has not finalized plans and are not ready yet to move forward with construction… this was a true preview for local business persons and town leadership.
Not many projects have this type of preview meeting, but this isn’t most projects.
I remember 16 years ago in Bellmawr when they originally planned a large residential development on the landfill property, there was a similar style presentation shared with business and town leadership.
This Gloucester City Waterfront project is far from certain and has many years of research and planning before we even see a shovel of dirt being turned over.
Bill Cleary of CNBnews also received the following quote from the Mayor of Gloucester City (snippet)
“This is just the first sketch from the developer, I’m sure many design changes are to come. This is just the very beginning of a long process to see if their project will be feasible. There is no agreement signed with them at this point other than for them to do their early due diligence and some test borings.Gloucester City Mayor Dayl Baile to CNBNews regarding the status of the project.
Redevelopment Resolutions Have Been Passed
If developed, this could be a large “Game changer” project for Gloucester City and the area.
While things are moving, this project has a long way to go and as the quote from the Mayor states… there is no agreement or official plans to develop.
That being said, while not an official “green lighted” project, discussions have been taking place between the developer and the city for some time, and Gloucester City has been working to redevelop this property for over 20 years.
Let’s take a step back first.
Redevelopment Area Designation 1996
Way back in 1996 the former Coast Guard area was designated “An Area in Need of Redevelopment”.
This is actually a very common process in New Jersey, and Gloucester City has many Redevelopment areas (and does a nice job of presenting them online in one concise page)
In general terms, a Redevelopment designation may include extra authority to create specific zoning laws for that area, choose a redeveloper for the property, acquire land, execute bonds for projects in that area and even offer PILOT tax programs.
Please don’t jump to conclusions. None of that is planned for the Gloucester City Coast Guard property. It simply means options are available to the Town and Planning Board.
Capodagli Designated Conditional Redeveloper Resolution R173-2020
In 2020 Gloucester City passed a resolution declaring Capodagli as the Conditional Redeveloper. (PDF)
I feel the real point of designating a redeveloper in these projects is; There is a lot of work, planning amd developer costs needed to bring a rehabilitation property back to life, so the City agrees that for some amount of time the redeveloper has exclusive rights to work with the town on all of those details.
The resolution States that initial discussions with Capodagli had taken place prior to the resolution, which makes sense in that some conversations had to happen before reaching the point of a resolution.
Conditional Redeveloper has presented its rehabilitation and redevelopment concepts to the City, and the City and the Conditional Redeveloper desire that the Property be rehabilitated and redeveloped in accordance with the Redevelopment Plan and any amendments thereto;Gloucester City Coast Guard Property Conditional Redeveloper Designation of Capodagli
Archeological Consulting Agreement Resolution R148-2021
Just last year another resolution was passed related to the Coast Guard property Redevelopment Area.
The City has signed on E2PM Project Management Group to analyze the property for any historical significance, and to remove any restrictions which would impede development.
Simply, New Jersey maintains a Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), whose goal is to protect our valuable historic assets.
The SHPO can maintain covenants and restrictions on properties that are looking to redevelop.
A formal application from the City is required to amend or remove any covenants/restrictions against the property… and the E2PM group will help research and prepare that document.
This is an important step to clear the road towards development.
Over in Bellmawr for the large Direct Connection project, there was a significant historical research project done which looked at all the buildings in the area, as well as archeological digs and soil bore samples… to verify any historical significance that would be impacted by the project.
Coast Guard Base History
The Gloucester City waterfront property and Coast Guard history goes back to 1898!
The base closed 90 years later in 1988 when they Coast Guard moved over to Philadelphia’s Penns Landing.
The site was also used to assist with immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Hidden NJ wrote a piece back in 2013 which gives a lot of history on the based, focused on the immigration aspects.
They also have a nice write-up on Billy Thompson who 125 years ago was known as the Duke of Gloucester who owned the land that the Coast Guard station was built on, operated a legal gambling racetrack in Gloucester City and a Hotel, and also created the Washington Lake Park in Westville.
CNBNews (Cleary’s Notebook) covers local news and issues for several towns, but their home base and focus is Gloucester City.
Cleary’s offers several posts on the Coast Guard base and the broader Waterfront development efforts in Gloucester City. Here are two