Hilton breaks ground on Camden's 1st hotel in decades

By Kenneth Hilario, May 21, 2019

Camden may not have a hotel, but that will soon change. Hilton has started work on a new 180-room property that will be the first hotel in decades for the South Jersey city.

Ground broke on Tuesday for a Hilton Garden Inn at 1 Penn St., which has been at least three years in the making since first proposed by developer Louis Cicalese.

It will be part of a $1 billion mixed-use project on the waterfront first initiated by Liberty Property Trust and now being developed by Ensemble Real Estate Investments and Cicalese. The Hilton Garden Inn was one of two hotels proposed years ago.

Scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Hilton (NYSE: HLT) will be the first hotel built in Camden in over 50 years and the first hotel operating in the city since the now-razed Plaza Hotel closed in 1985.

It's expected to generate up to 75 jobs once it's open.

The hotel will have 5,000 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant and bar, and 18 suites for longer-term stays, driven by demand from local education and medical institutions, and area businesses.

The Hilton Garden Inn is filling a need in Camden, where businesses or visitors wanting a place to stay must book lodging accommodations in surrounding South Jersey towns or across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. And there's demand for more lodging in Camden County, too. In 2018, hotel demand significantly outpaced supply, according to data analytics firm STR.

Camden County has about 34 hotels and nearly 2,800 rooms, according STR. Its hotel market in 2018 saw increases in all key performance metrics. See the graph on the original article.

Most of the development on the Delaware River has been on Philadelphia's side, but development has increased in Camden, including:

  • the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016 opened a 125,000-square-foot training complex, the NBA's largest;
  • Subaru of America Inc. moved to Camden in 2017 from Cherry Hill;
  • American Water constructed and moved into a new five-story headquarterson the waterfront;
  • water purification company ResinTech will relocate from West Berlin, lured by $138 million in state tax credits.

Efforts are being made along both banks of the Delaware River, which regional leaders view as "part of the same ecosystem." There's been about $2.5 billion in new development in the planned or under-construction phases.

The Camden Hilton Garden Inn will be designed by Cope Linder Architects. InTech Construction will be the general contractor.