Friday, August 7, 2015

Trenton Citywide Market Study...what's happening now.

It is always exciting to see our work start taking shape! Last year Larisa Ortiz Associates took on an ambitious project, a City-wide Market Study for Trenton, NJ. The City recently unveiled the report which can be found here.

Like many former industrial cities in the northeast, Trenton is a City with significant challenges - but with real assets upon which to build. The City's central location in a diverse and dense region, between two of the largest markets in the country make for tremendous opportunity. It's growing Latino population are taking risks and opening businesses. The City's historic fabric - with buildings that wow and inspire - can be leveraged and used to build visitation. And let us not forget a strong and growing set of downtown cultural anchors that can form the basis of a strong set of arts, culture, and entertainment offerings. ArtWorks Trenton is a bright star in the City, putting on Art All Night, an annual event that has attracted 30,000 to the City, proving that Trenton can attract visitors.

Broad Street is an important link between the Sun National Bank Center
 - 10,000 person area - and Mill Hill/Downtown. 

Vacant land is a challenge, but also an opportunity. 

Trenton's historic fabric is under display along
Warren Street in downtown Trenton.

Downtown office workers, many state employees, are critical to driving demand.

The Passage Theatre Co. in Mill Hill is a wonderful example of the
arts and cultural activities that can be found in Downtown Trenton. 
But getting to a stronger economy is a slow process, and one of our key findings was the need to build density. In this respect, the City's challenges are also its opportunities - land (and lots of it) can be had for relatively low cost in what is otherwise an expensive market. Moving forward, the opportunities to assemble and get land into the hands of a variety of investors - both local and regional, large and small - is going to be critical to stabilizing the local economy. And in a City where historic buildings are a valuable, if sometimes crumbling assets, the opportunity is significant. One of our more interesting findings involved doing some research into a very useful tool that has proven impactful in other communities like Trenton - a state historic tax credit. Unfortunately, New Jersey is one of only two states in the Northeast that does not offer a State Historic Tax Credit. It was quite a surprise to us - but underscored how valuable a State Credit can be in driving development in markets where historic assets are plentiful. This was a critical finding because developers looking to rehab older buildings in communities where land value is still quite low and the market is not yet mature - require a combination of BOTH federal and state tax credits to make their proformas work.

For more on our findings and analysis, please click here

In the meantime, here are a few press clippings to give you an idea of how the report is being used to inform the City's economic development strategy under the new mayor.

Trenton mayor: Economic development tied to 'strong public safety'

5 things Trenton is focusing on to foster economic development

Former Bell building to become mixed-use retail and residential property, expected to boost Trenton economy

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