Norcross critic wants state government to investigate Camden land deals

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One of the chief critics against a powerful southern New Jersey Democrat is asking the state government to investigate a series of land deals in Camden.

Sue Altman was a leading progressive critic of George Norcross well before she was dragged out of a public hearing last November which dealt with tax incentives Norcross received. She is now speaking out about valuable Camden waterfront property that ended up in Norcross' hands and a still-vacant lot that was supposed to be the site of a supermarket.

Altman has the backing of Gov. Phil Murphy, who has asked the state comptroller to investigate.

"In order to get anything done in Camden - If you're a developer, if you're someone who wants to do development in Camden the right way, you have to kiss the right rings. You have to get in line, you have to deal with the right brokers, the right insurance brokers, the right lawyers - to make sure that happens,” Altman says.

The two properties in question have been owned by the Delaware River Port Authority.

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“It’s chock full of [former Gov. Chris] Christie appointees who are doing the bidding of George Norcross, and it deserves investigation,” says Altman.

Delaware River Port Authority head John Hanson says, "There was no sweetheart land deal on our side. It was a fair value." The Port Authority operates the PATCO transit line and the four bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Hanson can see Norcross’s office town from his own office, and the neighboring waterfront lot. That lot was meant for an air tram project that never launched.

MORE: Democratic powerbroker George Norcross defends tax breaks; critic removed from hearing 
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“Our interest was appraised at $800,000 of the $2.3 million, and we received $800,000 from the developer, Liberty Property Trust,” says Hanson.

Liberty Property Trust sold the lot to Norcross and his investors for just $350,000.

"It was unknown to us. It was unknown, and we didn't find out until much later after the deal was done,” Hanson says.

Hanson says that Norcross had no role in the parking lot sale. He says that he admires the development Norcross has spearheaded at the Camden waterfront.

"We wound up with the aquarium, with the battleship, with things like that. But never really brought businesses to the city of a Camden. And now you have it,” Hanson says.

Norcross and his business partners are not allowed to build anything on the waterfront land for three years.

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