Is it optimism? Hubris? What exactly would cause a guy to try and get young families to cross the river to — gulp — Camden? Chuck Bragitikos, 38, has conquered daunting before. As president of Vibrant Development Group, a Center City company that’s made urban entertainment complexes its hallmark, he was a visionary behind the $285 million Quarter at the Tropicana.
But he’s topped his Atlantic City ambition with the soon-to-be-announced Cooper’s Crossing on the Camden waterfront, a several-hundred-million-dollar project. Master plans, which include a town square and good-timin’ bars and restaurants (like the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.), are aimed at injecting some character into a traditionally under-utilized area. The most theatrical flourish, an aerial tram stretched over the Delaware, will zip between Penn’s Landing and the center of Cooper’s Crossing.
The hope is to keep visitors entertained well after Camden’s aquarium has closed for the day. “I know the historic perception,” says Bragitikos, an articulate Wharton grad. “But for all the crime in Camden, the waterfront is a safe little island. There’s a greater chance of having your car stolen at the Cherry Hill Mall.”