The demonstration project that was proposed by the Camden School District and the City of Camden is the new Octavius V. Catto Community School, a 122,729-square-foot pre-Kindergarten through 6th grade facility for approximately 540 students. The nonprofit Boys and Girls Club of Camden County financed and operate a new 24,600 square foot facility incorporated into the Catto School that features a 7,000-square-foot swimming pool and other athletic amenities, as well as community meeting rooms. Students can use these facilities and the swimming pool during school hours, and Boys and Girls Club members can use school common areas, such as the gym and auditorium during non-school hours.
The Boys and Girls Club offers after school tutoring, computer training, sports education, homework help and mentoring. The Club also offers programs in character and leadership development, health and life skills, visual arts, crafts, performing arts and creative writing, providing an enriching and supportive after school environment for the children of east Camden.
The new school and Boys and Girls Club is constructed on an 8.5-acre section of the Dudley Grange Park. In exchange for the development of the Catto School on a portion of the park, the City dedicated three separate sites as replacement parkland, a 14 acre parcel which is the site of the Stockton Station Apartment complex, a series of blighted low-rise apartment buildings; an inactive NJ Transit right of way (ROW), and seven acres of a 44 acre property to be transferred from the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority. The ROW will be developed into a bikeway/trail system linking the Catto School and the Boys and Girls Club with the new park that will replace the Stockton Station Apartments. The Camden demonstration project will not only provide much needed educational space and recreational facilities in a supportive school/community center, but also will advance the City’s strategic vision of extending green/open space from the City’s river corridor into the fabric of east Camden.
The project was managed by the Camden Redevelopment Agency as redevelopment entity. Universal/Keating Ventures, LLC served as redeveloper. Architectural design services were provided by Hillier, and Langan Engineering provided civil and geotechnical services. Keating Building Corporation was the construction manager. Keating Environmental Management provided environmental and remediation consulting services.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening was held August 22, 2007.