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Judge Says Former Sears Bldg. in Camden Can Be Razed

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CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) – A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled that Camden officials can move ahead with a plan to take ownership of a landmark former Sears building, then tear it down to make way for an office park being developed by the Campbell Soup Co.

Judge Francis Orlando ruled against the building’s owner and preservationists in clearing the way for Camden to acquire the bulding through eminant domain.

Campbell Soup spokesman Anthony Sanzio says the company is pleased with the judge’s ruling but expects this isn’t the end of the legal battle.

“We do anticipate that the owner of the building and one activist who have delayed the project for years and years will appeal or will potentiallly file additional litigation,” Sanzio said.

The building, along Admiral Wilson Boulevard, served as a Sears department store from 1927 until 1971, then as everything from an office building to a car dealership, but has been empty for more than a decade.

The new office park has been held up for the last four years and Sanzio says, given the changing economy, the project is becoming less attractive from a business standpoint.

Campbell Soup Co. is the sole remaining Fortune 500 company in Camden. It considered moving elsewhere but agreed in 2007 to remain and redevelop a swath of the city as an office park.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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