In its quest to make the Camden waterfront a premier attraction, the Cooper's Ferry Partnership has applied for a $500,000 grant to attract a restaurant to the area.
The nonprofit group is developing a $9 million three-story building across from the Ferry Terminal Building near the waterfront's cultural attractions. The structure would have 4,500 square feet for a ground-floor restaurant and 14,500 square feet of office space, a quarter of it going to the new Cooper's Ferry headquarters.
Most of the funding for the building has been secured, but Cooper's Ferry is seeking the grant from the Urban Enterprise Zone office in Camden, one of 37 in the state established to stimulate economic development in struggling areas.
A resolution to approve the grant was up for a vote at Tuesday's Camden City Council meeting, but was tabled after questions were raised about the number of city residents the project would hire.
The partnership hopes to address any concerns Council has at next month's meeting, said Cooper's Ferry President Dave Foster.
The project cannot move forward unless it has a signed lease with a restaurant, said Jake Gordon, the group's vice president. The grant is needed to attract the restaurant, he said.
Because of its proximity to the Delaware River, engineering and constructing the building is more expensive than it would be elsewhere, Foster said.
At last week's Council caucus, Cooper's Ferry officials said the market price to build and outfit a waterfront restaurant space in the region was about $350 per square foot. The idea is to use the grant as a subsidy to lower that rate by $125 per square foot.
Interested restaurant owners have said "they want to know that part of the package would for sure be available" before signing an agreement, Foster said.
Once a tenant is signed, Cooper's Ferry will be able to break ground on the project, Gordon said.