Plans are in motion to transform a historic warehouse on the Camden waterfront into a modern office building with retail space on the ground floor, a project the developer hopes to start by the end of the year.

The building at 300 N. Delaware Ave., across the street from Campbell's Field and near the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, was built in the late 1800s as the site of the Ruby Match factory. Campbell's Soup later turned it into a food storage warehouse, but it has sat empty for years.

The property is owned by the Philadelphia real estate firm Athenian Razak, which is also the development manager for the 76ers' training facility under construction nearby on the Camden waterfront.

The completed project, which Christopher Strom of Athenian said would cost about $20 million, will create about 71,000 square feet of office space. Once the financing is completed, construction could start by the end of the year, he said.

Athenian and Colliers International, the leasing agent, hope to rent the finished space to an anchor tenant that could put up to 400 employees in the building. The parcel is close to the River Line, Strom said, making it desirable to companies with young staff members who prefer public transportation.

"The people who are going to lead the companies of the future are in their late 20s now," said Strom, Athenian's director of project development. "So, you need to accommodate their living patterns."

The building is dusty and cavernous, with large steel beams and a row of narrow windows near the ceiling. Renovation plans include replacing the roof, creating two floor levels and a mezzanine, and installing about 100 new windows. The third story of the building boasts views of the Philadelphia skyline and the baseball stadium.

Unlike many of the city's older warehouses, no environmental remediation is needed at the site.

Retail space on the ground floor could house a restaurant, said William Luff, managing director for Colliers, and one corner behind the property could be turned into a community garden or some other outdoor venue.

Tax credits through the state Economic Development Authority have in recent years drawn several large companies to Camden, including the 76ers. Though the project on Delaware Avenue would not directly benefit from those credits, Strom said any tenants could apply for EDA incentives.

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