By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
One of the buildings of the old Roebling Steelworks in Trenton is being converted to housing. The project is called Roebling Lofts and it was described today as a game-changer for Trenton.
“This is the type of housing that the next generation of workers is looking for. We can call them millennials. This is the type of housing that gets you close to transit, that puts you close to an urban setting, obviously Trenton,” said NJBIA President Michele Siekerka.
The old Roebling Steelworks covered three city blocks. This building, from 1917, has been vacant for decades.
“This is the quintessential loft building, up to 22-foot ceilings. All the lofts are duplex. The windows get amazing views over the city. And we’re doing the building to LEED Gold, so highly energy efficient,” said David Henderson from HHG Development Associates.
Trenton’s former Mayor Tony Mack was convicted of corruption.
Its current mayor Eric Jackson is on vacation, but he was applauded today for restoring confidence.
“The last number of years have been difficult for Trenton, before the mayor’s election. Difficult for us to be able to make commitments to the city when the city’s leadership was in such tumult and turmoil, but the mayor has brought stability, he’s brought integrity to the running of this city,” said Gov. Chris Christie.
Mayor Jackson’s business administrator gave the governor plaudits as well.
“This project has been discussed for a couple of decades and this governor has the will and the ability to bring this to reality,” said Trenton Business Administrator Terry McEwen.
Rents here will run from $1,350 for a one-bedroom up to $2,400.
The state Economic Development Authority has thrown in tax incentives.
Greater Trenton is the name of an independent organization promoting redevelopment in the capital city. Its co-chairman acknowledged the role of its founding CEO, George Sowa.
“He can help do for Trenton what has been done in Newark, Camden and New Brunswick. With his dynamic leadership, a committed board, corporate and community partners and the support of local and state governments, now it’s Trenton’s turn,” said Bernie Flynn.
The governor also announced that he is going to demolish the state Health Department building, the Agriculture Department building and the Division of Taxation building.
He’ll move them to a new, smaller state office complex to be built on this site, as part of downsizing.
“It just makes sense to make the footprint that we have here, the non-taxpaying footprint that we have here in Trenton, less. We’re down 9,000 employees since I took office in 2010, with no layoffs, all through attrition. Nine thousand fewer employees necessitates less office space, and maybe if we take some office space away whoever comes after me won’t try to fill those empty offices,” Christie said.
The governor said he’d have more announcements about the city of Trenton in the weeks ahead. With many of the leaders of the Trenton region in attendance here, it sounded like it went over well.