Focus Area #1: Strengthen Community

Strategy 1.1: Celebrate the Chelsea Neighborhood’s Diversity

The Chelsea Neighborhood’s diversity was consistently identified as one of its strengths throughout the public input process.  With 42% of the Neighborhood’s population identifying as Latinx or Hispanic and 34% of the population identifying as Asian, there is a wide variety of cultures present in Chelsea, each with its own rich history.  This is especially true at Sovereign Avenue School where 18 different languages are spoken and 21 countries are represented. Interviews of foreign-born Americans revealed their strong work ethic and family values, an appreciation for the opportunities in the City and region, and a commitment to the community.

Celebrating diversity is a top goal of Neighborhood residents.  Focus group participants spoke about wanting to see events and programs featuring the food of different cultures, dancing, and other forms of entertainment (e.g. movies, music, etc.). Building on established events and the work done by existing partners, such as the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County, Dynasty Alliance, and other organizations, AC Devco and Chelsea EDC is looking to help take these events to the next level. In addition, the desire for a Multicultural Center to learn about each other's cultures, as well as provide information, education, and training was expressed.

Potential activities include:

  • Cultural Events & Programs: Work with cultural organizations to organize, promote, and facilitate events and programs highlighting the diversity of the Chelsea Neighborhood.

  • Promoting International Cuisine: In partnership with local grocers and restaurants, promote the diverse culinary offerings found in Chelsea, coordinate food-related programs, and market the Neighborhood as an “International Food” district.

  • Multicultural Center: Assist in establishing a Multicultural Resource Center for Neighborhood residents to receive services, referrals, and support.  This Center will have space for events and activities will be supported by Stockton students and other volunteers.

  • Building the Capacity of Cultural Organizations: A formal partnership with these cultural organizations to help them facilitate elements of this plan.

Strategy 1.2: Engage Residents Through the Arts

Arts programs and activities will engage residents of all ages and cultures.  Building on the activities of Strategy 3.1, AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will promote multicultural artistic expression in the form of fine and performing arts programs. They will work through the Atlantic City Arts Foundation (ACAF) and the Atlantic City Art Commission, along with neighborhood organizations, to engage youth and adults with cultural programs. 

Potential activities include:

  • Fine & Performing Arts Programs: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will support established partners as they expand their fine and performing arts programs for Chelsea residents.  Supports include free public arts programs and tuition assistance for other programs.

  • Public Art Installations: Work with arts organizations on the development and installation of public art by local artists.

  • Arts & Beautification: Work with arts organizations to identify artists for beautification projects (e.g. vacant storefront window displays and graphics, branding and promotional art, decorative bike racks, decorative waste receptacles, decorative electrical boxes).

Strategy 1.3: Empower Residents to Become Community Leaders

The Chelsea Neighborhood Association has been active for more than 45 years and has served as a springboard for resident involvement with neighborhood and municipal affairs.  It will look to expand its membership, develop a network of block captains, and promote active resident participation in the implementation of this plan. It will also help residents engage with smaller organizations through volunteerism.

Supporting citywide resident leadership development initiatives benefits the Chelsea Neighborhood. The currently inactive Lead AC program, and the ACPD’s Citizen Police Academy promote citizen-leadership in the community. Both of these programs could connect Chelsea residents with decision makers and help to elevate the needs and concerns of the Neighborhood.

Over the next 5-10 years, AC Devco will work to empower neighborhood residents to become leaders on their blocks, neighborhood, and City through these activities:  

  • Develop a network of Block Captains: Engage Chelsea Neighborhood residents in the creation of block associations and the election of block captains to assist with community building activities.

  • Volunteerism: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work to engage residents through volunteer fairs and connections to opportunities with local organizations serving the Chelsea Neighborhood.

  • Resident Leadership Training: AC Devco will work with Atlantic City groups looking to reinstate the Lead AC program and/or develop new leadership development programs for residents, including for youth.

Strategy 1.4: Facilitate Opportunities to Connect Stockton Students and Local Workers With the Chelsea Neighborhood

The relationship between Chelsea residents, Stockton University, South Jersey Gas and other workers, is central to this plan’s success. AC Devco and Chelsea EDC are in a unique position to help foster a connection between these entities. Approximately 2,000 Stockton and South Jersey Gas affiliates use the Neighborhood daily. The goal is to increase that number and encourage students and employees to frequent Neighborhood restaurants and businesses. A combination of events, activities, and programs designed to foster communication and interaction among and between residents and Stockton and South Jersey Gas and other workers will help to forge a strong relationship between these groups, and lead to a Neighborhood goal of faculty, students and workers becoming Chelsea residents. 

Potential activities include:

  • Neighborhood-wide Events: Market all neighborhood events (e.g. arts programming, cultural festivals, etc.) to the Stockton University community and South Jersey Gas employees, as well as residents.

  • Neighborhood Tours: Coordinating with the current City tours offered through Stockton, work with local historians to establish public walking tours of history, culture, architecture, and food.

  • Bi-Annual Neighborhood Clean-ups: Building on Stockton University’s Martin Luther King Day of Service, work with Stockton and South Jersey Gas to coordinate bi-annual neighborhood-wide clean-up days.

Strategy 2.1: Address Perceptions of Safety in the Chelsea Neighborhood

This plan will address real crime incidents as well as perceptions of criminal activity. This strategy requires investment from the City as well as shifts in perceptions of public safety.  This plan will create greater ACPD presence in the Neighborhood and increase the chance for community relationship-building.  Securing additional funding for the Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) program and additional Class 2 Officers will ensure more officers are visible and accessible to Neighborhood residents.

Through the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) framework, property owners will learn how to make safety-increasing improvements.  In addition to CPTED training, residents will form a neighborhood watch in Chelsea after receiving training through the City’s Citizen Police Academy. 

This plan will also address necessary social services, referring people with mental health, addiction, and housing issues for services.

The activities below represent an example of ways AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will implement this strategy:

  • Live Local: Ensure a visible, physical presence of first responders by providing incentives for them to live in the Neighborhood.  Work with the ACPD and CRDA to support this initiative..

  • CPTED Training & Implementation: Work through the Chelsea Neighborhood Association to host CPTED training workshops for property owners. Provide small grants to participants to implement CPTED tactics.

  • Neighborhood Watch: Building on a network of block captains and resident leaders, AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work with the Chelsea Neighborhood Association to implement a neighborhood watch program and provide residents with the necessary training.

  • Partner with Social Service Agencies to Provide Outreach: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will partner with social service agencies and coordinate efforts to help identify and refer individuals for services.

Strategy 2.2: Invest In Crime Deterrents 

Criminal activity in the Chelsea Neighborhood can be suppressed by investing in a series of deterrents on both private property as well as in public spaces. Residents and stakeholders discussed the need to address several long-standing issues in the Neighborhood: poor lighting in some areas, lack of security cameras, care for vacant/abandoned properties, and more visible police presence. AC Devco and Chelsea EDC can help apply for grants or identify funding for property owners to encourage investment in better lighting and cameras.  Property owners will be held accountable for the condition of vacant and abandoned properties. These deterrents can change the look and feel of the Neighborhood.

The ACPD, City Public Works, City Code, and SID are providing clean and safe initiatives in the Chelsea Neighborhood, however, the plan envisions additional resources to these entities to increase and expand their efforts.  An easy reporting method for residents and workers is also needed.

Potential activities include:

  • Lighting & Cameras: Coordinate with the ACPD to incentivize property owners to install lighting in dark areas of Chelsea and ensure camera feeds are connected to the City’s network - areas of particular focus include Pacific Avenue and the “H Alleys”.

  • Code Enforcement Advocacy & Remediation: Work with residents to advocate for targeted code enforcement to ensure vacant, abandoned, and other nuisance properties are maintained and remediated to City standards.

Resources for Partners: Support partners such as the ACPD and SID to provide needed resources (e.g. bicycles for patrols, graffiti removal equipment, etc.) for use in Chelsea.

Strategy 2.3: Improve Pedestrian and Cyclist Infrastructure

Chelsea is a largely walkable neighborhood, a fact much appreciated by residents. 23.7% of housing units in Chelsea do not have a car, and 22.2% of residents walk to work. However, there are safety issues involving speeding cars, treacherous crossings, and lack of infrastructure. Over the next 5-10 years, AC Devco and Chelsea EDC plans to build on the walkability of the Neighborhood to ensure the comfort and safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Building on this Neighborhood strength is important and steps will be taken to ensure Chelsea remains walkable into the future.

An increase in cycling in the Chelsea Neighborhood calls for additional infrastructure (e.g. road markings or dedicated bicycle lanes, places to safely lock-up bicycles, etc.) and increased education for residents and visitors about the rules of the road.  This plan envisions the installation of different cyclist interventions in Chelsea with the goal of creating permanent cyclist infrastructure in the Neighborhood.

Potential activities include:

  • Improved Pedestrian Infrastructure: Work with the City and other partners to develop, install, and maintain innovative pedestrian infrastructure improvements in Chelsea (e.g. decorative crosswalks, pedestrian countdown clocks, etc.).

  • Decorative Bicycle Racks: Work with the Atlantic City Arts Foundation to commission decorative bicycle racks to be developed by local artists.

  • Pilot and Permanent Bicycle Infrastructure: In partnership with the City, pilot and evaluate several bicycle infrastructure improvements along key Neighborhood corridors with the goal of installing permanent bicycle infrastructure in Chelsea by 2030.

Strategy 2.4: Promote An Active and Healthy Lifestyle

Addressing the physical and social wellness of residents is a multi-pronged effort. While the Chelsea Neighborhood has social activities for children and their parents, activities for seniors - 16% of Chelsea’s residents - are lacking. 

The Chelsea Neighborhood’s walkability makes it easy for people to get around and run errands without use of a car.  Close proximity to the beach encourages people to exercise on the Boardwalk and swim in the ocean. This plan envisions the opportunity for an active, healthy lifestyle for all residents by promoting physical activity and accessible health care.

Potential activities include:

  • Healthy Chelsea: Partner with local healthcare providers and institutions such as AtlantiCare and Reliance to ensure quality medical care.  Partners will share information on health insurance and healthy living.

  • Social Service Interventions: People experiencing homelessness, addiction, and behavioral health needs will receive support and referrals by AC Devco and its partners, focusing on health and wellness.

  • Activities for All Ages: Work with partners to develop and facilitate programming for all Chelsea residents.  Activities may be geared toward different population segments, including seniors, parents, and youth.

Strategy 3.1: Renovate & Improve O’Donnell Park and Adjacent Open Space to Make it Accessible and Actively Used By The Neighborhood

The largest, most prominent green space in the Chelsea Neighborhood is O’Donnell Park. The park contains memorials honoring those who served in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam in addition to memorials for POW/MIA, the 87th Infantry Division, Southeast Asia Casualties, and those who earned Purple Hearts. 

In addition to memorials, O’Donnell Park has distinctive landscaping and is equipped with electricity to be able to host outdoor events.  Unfortunately, very few people are utilizing the park for active or passive recreation.  During focus groups, residents called for the renovation of O’Donnell Park that maintains the memorials while allowing for Neighborhood events and activities to take place on a more wide-open expanse of green-space.

There are three additional blocks of green space along O’Donnell Parkway that are also usable.  This green space is more easily accessible to pedestrians.

Potential activities include:

  • Design Charrette: Work with the City and the CRDA to hire a landscape architect to engage the community in planning for the future of O’Donnell Park.  This will maintain existing memorials, improve landscaping, and ensure accessibility of the park for active and passive recreation.

  • Park Programs: Partner with the SID and other neighborhood institutions to host small- and medium-scale events (e.g. food truck festival, movie nights, yoga, farmers’ market, etc.) at O’Donnell Park.

  • Friends of O’Donnell Park: Formation of a “Friends of O’Donnell Park” entity that can fundraise for and support the upkeep of O’Donnell Park. This group will advocate for municipal support for the park and apply for funding to support programming.

Strategy 3.2: Improve and Expand Recreational Facilities in Chelsea

The Chelsea Neighborhood contains several recreational facilities. The physical appearance and program offerings of these spaces can be improved. Existing Neighborhood facilities must modify and expand their offerings to meet the needs of the community.  An organized schedule of activities and offerings should be made available to Chelsea residents so they know where and when different programs are being offered.  Further, partner organizations should look to volunteers and part-time staffers to facilitate new programs

The Chelsea Neighborhood and Atlantic City, are in need of high-quality recreational facilities for youth and adult sports. Working with municipal recreation officials, AC Devco will identify potential improvements to scheduling and maintenance of existing recreational spaces and advocate for expanded recreational spaces in the Neighborhood. The expansion of these programs will bring people together and help foster community.

Ppotential activities include:

  • Organized Recreational Programming: Work with the City and local organizations to develop and promote a calendar recreational programs offered by public and private organizations locally.  Work to ensure programming is varied, accessible, and convenient.

  • Pop-Up & Temporary Recreation: Work with local organizations to design and facilitate pop-up and temporary recreation programs and facilities throughout the Neighborhood.

  • Improve and Expand Existing Facilities: Work in partnership with the City to secure resources to improve the maintenance of and expand the existing recreational facilities at Pallitto Field and the Texas Avenue Playground, as well as supporting neighborhood institutions such as Our Lady Star of the Sea School to add or expand recreational facilities for the community. 

Strategy 3.3: Partner With Local and National Organizations to Increase Access to Youth Programming.

During a focus group targeted to the youth of the Chelsea Neighborhood, gaps in existing programming were evident.  In terms of educational and career programming, local organizations and the youth offered a blueprint for programming that may be offered over the next decade.  Organizations such as ACIT and the Boys & Girls Club are currently working to expose Chelsea youth to career pathways in fields such as Healthcare, IT, Green Energy, Building Trades, Culinary and Aviation. Youth also showed an interest in STEM education and the arts while expressing the need to learn basic life-skills.

Building on Strategies 3.2, 1.1, and 1.2, the youth in Chelsea want to celebrate their diversity by engaging in recreational programs where they can express themselves and have fun doing it.  Organized recreational activities administered by both the Dynesty Alliance and Atlantic County Hispanic Association expose youth to ethnic dance while teaching them other life skills.  The Boys & Girls Club and Our Lady Star of the Sea both offer recreational programs at their gymnasiums that should be expanded to invite youth from throughout the neighborhood to join.  Programs like Junior Lifeguards can be promoted in the neighborhood.  Before and after school programs are also an opportunity to provide programming.

Potential activities include:

  • Youth Development: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work with the Boys & Girls Club to promote their existing offerings as well as youth development courses on subjects of particular interest to Chelsea youth (e.g. balancing a check-book, applying for college and financial aid, etc).  In partnership with Stockton, ACCC, and ACIT, AC D

  • Potential activities include:

  • Youth Development: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work with the Boys & Girls Club to promote their existing offerings as well as youth development courses on subjects of particular interest to Chelsea youth (e.g. balancing a check-book, applying for college and financial aid, etc).  In partnership with Stockton, ACCC, and ACIT, AC Devco and the Boys & Girls Club will also host career development nights focused on different pathways and industries. 

  • Youth Sports: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work with groups such as Youth in Motion, Asian American Sports Club of Atlantic City, and Atlantic City FC Soccer Team to develop youth sports teams (e.g. soccer, cricket, crew, etc.) that offer quality, affordable programming for boys and girls.

  • Maker-Space, Robotics, and STEM Programs: AC Devco, in partnership with Stockton University, the Boys & Girls Club, and Neighborhood Schools, will provide programming involving Robotics and other STEAM subjects.  Mentors and volunteers will be sought from neighborhood employers such as South Jersey Gas.  A Maker-Space will be developed in Chelsea to support youth entrepreneurs and creatives.

  • evco and the Boys & Girls Club will also host career development nights focused on different pathways and industries. 

  • Youth Sports: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will work with groups such as Youth in Motion, Asian American Sports Club of Atlantic City, and Atlantic City FC Soccer Team to develop youth sports teams (e.g. soccer, cricket, crew, etc.) that offer quality, affordable programming for boys and girls.

  • Maker-Space, Robotics, and STEM Programs: AC Devco, in partnership with Stockton University, the Boys & Girls Club, and Neighborhood Schools, will provide programming involving Robotics and other STEAM subjects.  Mentors and volunteers will be sought from neighborhood employers such as South Jersey Gas.  A Maker-Space will be developed in Chelsea to support youth entrepreneurs and creatives.

Strategy 4.1: Acquire, Rehabilitate, and Construct Housing to Provide Quality, Affordable Homeownership and Rental Opportunities in the Neighborhood.

Acquiring, rehabilitating, and constructing housing in the neighborhood is an important strategy to ensure that the neighborhood remains affordable.  During the planning process, a focus group, convened to discuss housing, identified the need to: 1) reduce the number of vacant properties in the neighborhood; 2) create more “move-in-ready” homes for those looking to rent and buy; and 3) market the neighborhood to existing renters, recent Stockton graduates, and public sector employees (e.g. police, fire, City employees, and teachers).  

Leveraging AC Devco’s strength as a developer and their relationships with local and statewide partners, this strategy is ambitious and achievable.  Year over year, AC Devco will partner with local contractors to identify subsidies to acquire, rehabilitate, and construct residential and mixed-use properties throughout the neighborhood.  Vacant lots and structures will be developed in a manner that complements existing housing while offering new and different models of housing.

Potential activities include:

  • Develop homeownership units: Produce new and rehabilitated homeownership units through acquisition and a mix of rehabilitation and new construction.

  • Develop quality, affordable rental housing: Produce new and rehabilitated rental housing units available at varying price points.

  • Revitalize abandoned and vacant properties: Utilize local ordinances to acquire and rehabilitate properties that meet statutory definitions for homeownership and rental housing developments.

  • Partner with local housing developers: Develop housing in partnership with local developers and contractors.

Strategy 4.2: Support Individuals and Families Looking to Own a Home.

AC Devco will look to provide support to individuals and families looking to own a home in the Chelsea Neighborhood through a variety of activities such as: homeownership events, homeownership counseling, and the use of incentives.

Only 21% of housing units in the Chelsea Neighborhood are owner occupied.  A plurality of residents rent their home (48%), while 16% of housing units are seasonally occupied and 15% are vacant. There is demand for housing counseling and other forms of assistance to help renters prepare for the transition to ownership.

There currently exists several home buying incentives offered by the City, County and State, as well as private banks and lending institutions.  However, additional incentives may be needed to increase the home ownership rate.

In partnership with the CRDA, local government, and the public school system, a targeted effort to incentivize local homeownership for first responders (police and fire) and other public sector employees will create good-will in the Neighborhood. This plan will also incentivize home buying in Chelsea for employees of Stockton University and South Jersey Gas.

Potential Activities Include

  • Homeownership Events: Work with local institutions and other partners to host events aimed at preparing people for the homebuying process.

  • Homeownership Counseling: Connect interested residents with local HUD-certified homeownership counselors to provide homebuying coaching.

  • Down-Payment Assistance: Provide down-payment assistance to low- and moderate-income neighborhood renters looking to purchase a home in the Chelsea Neighborhood.

  • Targeted Incentives: Work with CRDA and local institutions to create and administer targeted incentives (e.g. down-payment assistance, closing cost assistance, match-savings accounts) to targeted populations (e.g. first responders, government employees, teachers, employees of local businesses).

Strategy 4.3: Promote the Maintenance, Resilience, and Beautification of the Neighborhood’s Homes.

Properties in the Chelsea Neighborhood are among the oldest in Atlantic City. Over 67% of the Neighborhood’s homes were built before 1960 and more than 40% of all homes were built prior to 1940.  Investment in the physical condition of the Neighborhood’s housing stock will make Chelsea more attractive to potential homebuyers.

AC Devco will work directly with property owners on this strategy. Changes to the atmosphere of residential blocks will happen incrementally; however, the plan anticipates private investments will contribute to these efforts once a few key properties have been rehabilitated.

  • Home Repair Programs: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will direct residents to existing funding such as HUD Home Program administered by the City, and partner with organizations such as ACIT to bring home repair classes to homeowners in the Neighborhood.

  • Home Resiliency Measures: AC Devco will partner with local organizations to implement weatherization, alternative energy, flood prevention, and other resiliency measures for homeowner occupants in the form of grants, technical support, and referrals.

  • Block Beautification Contests: AC Devco and Chelsea EDC will hold a monthly and annual competition for residents to compete for community building and beautification projects (e.g. block parties, installation of decorative landscaping, traffic calming, banners, etc.).

Strategy 5.1: Promote and Support Businesses Located in Chelsea


The Chelsea Neighborhood boasts a diverse mix of businesses, including restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.  These nearly 200 businesses cater to Chelsea residents, other CIty residents, and visitors.  Promoting and supporting these businesses is a major priority. The needs and interests of the businesses are different, but all would like to increase foot traffic in the Neighborhood and provide an appealing atmosphere for their customers. As the Chelsea Neighborhood becomes a fully-realized ‘University District’, businesses may need to adapt their marketing, appearance, and/or products. Collaborating with local and regional partners, AC Devco will ensure the businesses in Chelsea continue to serve Neighborhood residents, tourists, and Stockton students.


Potential activities include:

  • Neighborhood Branding & Marketing: Engage in a branding process leading to the creation of a cohesive identity for the neighborhood and the business district.

  • Support to Existing Businesses: Offer a variety of direct-to-business supports including but not limited to: facade improvement grants, commercial rent subsidies, and small business loan interest rate buy-downs.

  • Small Business Resource Center:  Establish a Business Resource Center offering services, referrals, and support.  This Center will have space for events and activities and can be supported by Stockton students and other volunteers.

  • Small Business, Entrepreneur, & Micro-Enterprise Support: AC Devco will partner with  various agencies such as the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, the Latin American Economic Development Agency, and Stockton’s Small Business Development Center  to administer training and support to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and micro-enterprises.

Strategy 5.2: Actively Recruit New and Diverse Businesses to the Neighborhood

The Chelsea business community must evolve to meet the needs of residents, tourists, students, and professionals over the next 5-10 years. Many of the businesses are hospitality-focused and seasonal.  Actively recruiting new and diverse businesses to the Chelsea Neighborhood will ultimately benefit Atlantic City as a whole.

The buying power of Stockton students and South Jersey Gas employees should be considered by businesses considering moving into existing storefronts in the neighborhood. Focus group participants expressed a desire for new businesses that cater to the students, local employees, and residents.

Potential activities include:

  • Filling Vacant Storefronts: Market vacant storefronts to businesses.  Work with property owners to address barriers to leasing/selling space to a mix of different businesses.

  • Support to New Businesses: Offer a variety of direct-to-business supports including but not limited to: facade improvement grants, commercial rent subsidies, and small business loan interest rate buy-downs.

  • Healthy Corner Stores: Work with small grocers and bodegas to increase their capacity to provide fresh produce to residents.

  • Technical Support: Provide technical support to businesses looking to start-up or move to the Chelsea Neighborhood.

Strategy 5.3: Invest in workforce development through job training, continuing education, and other career pathways for residents

Empowering students and workers through training, continuing education, and other career pathways is a long-term investment in the sustainability and resilience of the local economy. Focus group and survey participants expressed a need for more youth programming, especially relating to job training.  The Boys & Girls Club administers programs focusing on culinary, STEM, IT, green energy, and healthcare.  Their existing partnerships with the Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT), local schools, and local employers should be leveraged and expanded to provide more professional development and employment opportunities.  Stockton’s AC campus is also engaging in workforce development of youth and adults in the Chelsea Neighborhood, providing job readiness, job skills training and job development/placement.

Potential activities include:

  • Resident & Employee Skill Training: Partner with training providers to directly support the participation of Chelsea residents and employees to secure additional training, certifications, and education.

  • Small Business Training:  Promote the existing programs and help create new ones that meet the needs of the existing and new businesses in the Neighborhood.

  • Youth Training: Support the expansion of youth training programs administered by local partners such as the Boys & Girls Club.

  • Youth Employment: Work with the City’s summer youth employment program to encourage Chelsea Neighborhood youth to gain work experience.

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