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Editor’s Note: This story was updated with comment from Sue Altman at 10:59 a.m.
Democratic powerbroker George Norcross pushed a non-profit out of prime real estate holdings in Camden, according to a cooperative WNYC and ProPublica report.
In 2013, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership was set to purchase the L3 business park in hopes that rental payments from the land would fund Camden’s revitalization.
In March the next year, Norcross’s brother, Philip Norcross, met with the non-profit, which later reversed course and partnered with a Norcross-linked firm and, later, a subsidiary Cooper University Health Care, where Norcross is chairman of the board.
As the process unfolded, Norcross and his allies attempted to push out John Sheridan, who was then chairman of Cooper Ferry, the report says.
Through a spokesman, both George and Philip Norcross denied any wrongdoing, adding that they did not see any personal financial benefit from the L3 purchase.
After the acquisition Norcross owned and linked firms then bought close to half of real estate along the Camden side of the Delaware river that fell within the city’s redevelopment zone.
The redevelopment designation allowed some of those firms to obtain lucrative tax credits from the state.
Norcross opponents saw the story as proof of their condemnations of the powerbroker.
“The Norcross brothers see Camden as their personal playground. They aren’t interested in building a better future for residents of one of America’s poorest cities,” NJ Working Families Director Sue Altman said. “Instead, it is clear that they will stop at nothing to reward their friends and allies at the expense of the people of Camden: whether it’s efforts to stop a supermarket deal in favor of a client’s proposal, rewrite the state’s tax incentive laws to benefit favored companies or carry out a scheme to take real estate from a nonprofit.”