CAMDEN, NJ — Rutgers University was denied an emergency demolition request for 421 Cooper St. and as of Tuesday has not said whether it will take further actions on the matter.
The university said the property, which is listed on the National Registers of Historic Places, warrants demolition due to structural issues in their March 2 request.
“According to your letter, the facade at 421 Cooper Street has deteriorated, and bricks have fallen onto the sidewalk below causing a public safety hazard,” reads an excerpt from correspondence obtained by TAPinto Camden to Rutgers from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection administrator, Katherine Marcopul. “In order to address the public safety hazard, Rutgers is requesting emergency authorization to demolish the building.”
Additionally, Rutgers noted lateral supports that are not intact or missing, a vertical crack on the southwest building corner, and a failing roof due to water infiltration leading to corrosion.
Outlining examples of emergency situations — wherein demolitions of this nature are warranted — the state in its March 6 letter to Rutgers referred to damage caused by natural disasters, major fires, serious accidents or structural collapse.
“The poor condition of a property caused by long term deterioration shall not be considered an emergency,” said Marcopul. “Upon review of the structural assessment, the HOP has determined the proposed undertaking does not meet the definition of an emergency as the cause of the facade’s failure is due to long term deterioration."
As it stands, the building is surrounded by scaffolding.
Mike Sepanic, spokesperson for Rutgers-University Camden, referred questions to a university office that deals with such matters. At this time they are not commenting on future plans for the property, he said.
According to historic data collected by the Project of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden, 421 Cooper St. was likely constructed prior to 1885.
While the Cooper building has changed hands many times over the years, MARCH says Rutgers acquired it in 1999.
More history on the property is available here.