When it comes to Camden City, it is widely assumed, and known, that the Downtown Business and University District is the safest area of the city. After all, Rutgers University is right on Cooper Street with its own police force, L3 Communications has a security team, the Delaware River Port Authority has some jurisdiction in the area, and of course, the Camden County Police Force patrols within Downtown’s vicinity. The Adventure Aquarium and the Susquehanna Bank Center are also a part of Downtown Camden, and they both draw thousands of visitors throughout the year which in turn creates a need for high police presence. All of these locations are reachable by taking the PATCO or RiverLine.
However, the biggest danger that currently faces this section of Camden can not be tamed by any police force, no matter what jurisdiction of the law it may hail from. Downtown Camden, from a ground perspective at least, is facing the potential threat of a large building’s collapse.
The Radio Lofts building says that “Condominiums (are) Coming Soon”, however these banners have been displayed for roughly a decade with no sign of condominiums coming anytime soon. The Radio Lofts property is owned by Dranoff Properties, a redevelopment firm that owns and has constructed several high rise apartment and condominium structures in Philadelphia, as well as the Victor building in Camden. On their website the firm displays virtual images of a proposed refurbishing project of The Radio Lofts in an effort to bring luxury housing to the Camden Waterfront.
The images of what could have become of the building are magnificent, even breathtaking. However, I believe they are simply images of an abandoned dream now. Given the current physical state of the building, I do not see how Dranoff Properties can even touch the building without it falling in on itself.
More importantly, though, is the safety risk that this seemingly forgotten project poses to pedestrians, motorists, and RiverLine passengers. There are several obvious locations on the Cooper Street facing side of the building where bricks and decorative cinder stones have detached and fallen to the ground.
At least two corners of the building display large separations of bricks of which appear to be growing.
At some point in time, wooden support beams were installed in the window units, but now they are completely weather-beaten, and they are either falling in or out of the building.
What appears to be most alarming about the visible dilapidation of The Radio Lofts can be seen from the cracks between a large gate blocking the entrance from the sidewalk. It appears that the ceilings are beginning to cave in, most likely from years of rain, snow, and wind. Most abandoned buildings in Camden have ended their existence following the destruction of the ceilings and roofs. That is when physics will take full effect and the buildings collapse.
The City of Camden and Dranoff Properties need to act immediately. A building collapse of this size can cause dozens of deaths and serious injuries to motorists, pedestrians, and the RiverLine riders who wait at the foot of the building for the train to come. This is a threat to public safety without much time left to act, and monetary responsibility can no longer be an impediment to action.