New York, NY (February 6, 2019)—Last year, Pro Sound News reported about how a former early 1900s recording facility was set to become the centerpiece of a planned artistic/commercial revitalization in Camden, NJ. Now the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that plans to reinvent the eight-story Victor Talking Machine Company building have been scrapped in the wake of the building's sale to EMR Eastern, a recycling business.
Founded in 1901, the Victor Talking Machine Company grew over the years to fill two dozen buildings across 10 city blocks as it manufactured record players, accessories and a whopping 800,000 records a day. Few signs of that empire exist today, however, and Victor’s main eight-story office building near the city’s waterfront sat barely used by its former owner, the Camden City School District, for much of the 2000s.
Development partnership Millennial Partners purchased the building in March 2018, aiming to create a renovated, modern-day office space that would evoke its musical past. Plans called for the eighth-floor recording studio—where the likes of Enrico Caruso, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday reportedly cut sides—to be redeveloped and joined by a video production facility. Other possibilities included a roof-based restaurant offering views of Philadelphia across the river, first-floor shops, a performance space and more, with Millennial Partners using the site’s musical heritage to attract business tenants and create a sense of community.
While the developer gutted most of the 90,000-square-foot building’s interior, it instead opted to sell it for a reported $13.5 million instead of developing it, after owning the building for less than a year. EMR Eastern expects to bring 120 employees to the building after it completes an estimated $33 million in renovations.
EMR Eastern president Joseph Balzano Jr. told the Inquirer that the lobby and top two floors—where the recording studios were—will be preserved. That falls in line with the requests of Camden’s Historic Preservation Committee, which approved the deal with the caveat that EMR preserve the building’s musical history. The edifice will be part of a larger EMR Eastern campus in the area, for which the company will get $253 million in tax incentives.
Millennial Partners • www.millennialpartnersllc.com