DRPA issues statement regarding complaint forwarded to the Office of the State Comptroller
On January 27, 2020, the Office of the Governor of New Jersey referred a complaint they received concerning real estate land transactions involving the Delaware River Port Authority (“DRPA”) to the Office of the State Comptroller for review.
The complaint references two properties, one located at 17th & Admiral Wilson and the other on the Camden Waterfront.
The complaint is misguided, inaccurate and misleading. The Authority has conducted these transactions in an appropriate, legal, and ethical way. The Authority will or has received consideration in excess of fair market value for these properties.
All of the Authority’s business is conducted in the most transparent process possible. The actions referenced in the complaint were presented and voted on during open public meetings. Once approved by the DRPA Board of Commissioners, these actions were provided to the Governor of New Jersey for review; the Governor did not veto these matters, thereby approving them.
In 2016, the DRPA Board authorized the sale of the property at 17th & Admiral Wilson Boulevard to the Camden City Redevelopment Authority (“CCRA”) for full market value. The development of a supermarket or any other commercial use was the responsibility and mission of the CCRA. The DRPA was not involved with the selection of the developer chosen by the CCRA, nor responsible for any decisions as to the end user. Because no end user has yet been identified by the CCRA, the current Agreement of Sale has been extended through December 31, 2020.
Concerning the Waterfront land and air rights, during its era of economic development, DRPA became the owner of an interest in the Waterfront land and air rights pursuant to an agreement between CCRA and DRPA. DRPA’s interest in the land and air rights was restricted to the construction of an aerial tram between Philadelphia and Camden and a tram landing facility in Camden. If DRPA did not construct the tram by December 31, 2026, DRPA’s interest in the land and air rights reverted to the CCRA. DRPA publicly abandoned the tram project in 2011.
At a December 2, 2016 closing, DRPA sold its interest in the land along the Waterfront to Liberty Property Trust (“Liberty”); Liberty assigned the Agreement of Sale to its New Jersey affiliate Camden Town Center LLC. At the same time, DRPA assigned its tram air rights to CCRA; CCRA conveyed those rights to Camden Town Center LLC. DRPA received $800,000.00 for its interest in the land, the fair market value as established by an appraisal dated December 29, 2015. It received $500,000.00, a fair price for its interest in the air rights, which was restricted to use for an aerial tram and which would have reverted to the CCRA in 2026. In addition to receiving $1,300,000.00, DRPA was relieved of future redevelopment obligations, including the costly removal of partially constructed aerial tram structurers located in the Delaware River along the Camden Waterfront. Following the closing, DRPA had no further involvement, with subsequent development or sale of the property.
The sale of these excess properties, which are unrelated to DRPA’s core transportation mission, has resulted in the receipt of $1,300,000.00 for the Waterfront property and shall result in the payment of $1,300,000.00 to the DRPA upon conveyance of the Admiral Wilson property. The receipt of these payments have contributed to the DRPA’s solid fiscal footing.
Under our stewardship, the bridges and PATCO transit line are in great condition. Our safety record remains unparalleled in our region. We are particularly proud of our financial stewardship. The Authority has not raised tolls since 2011 and remains committed to holding tolls at their current levels until at least 2023.
We remain focused on moving the Authority closer to realizing our vision of a world-class stewardship organization that consistently meets the highest standards of excellence in delivering its services.
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