Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The train of progress derailed

The city held a highly promoted, open invite session to discuss the development plan for the area around the train station.

In a flyer widely circulated to and through the city's various civic groups. The text of the flyer clearly stated that Trenton's Mayor would be present.
Brief Remarks by: Mayor Palmer & the Department of Housing & Economic Development
Interesting how, at the outset, Director of Housing and Economic Development, Sassa Montano announced to the gathering that Mr. Palmer would not be attending.

The crowd response was not, to be kind, understanding.

After all the recent fuss over the potential of losing two incredible Victorian mansions and a very busy and popular gas station for one of the proposed development schemes in the area, people had turned out to have their say about the hows and wherefores of any redevelopment in the train station area.

Interestingly, and not surprisingly, Mr. Palmer suddenly materialized while his Housing and Economic Development Director was foundering at the podium. Summoned, no doubt, by a text message or two from City Council President and Palmer protege, Paul "I never met a PowerPoint presentation I didn't like" Pintella, the Mayor made a very ill-prepared and feeble attempt to defuse some of the palpable tension in the room.

Too bad. Too late.

Mr.Palmer showed his true disinterest in true progress for the city he purports to lead. He alienated everyone from Walnut Avenue to Mill Hill and beyond with his callous and uninformed approach to this "key project" in Trenton's rebirth.

Do you need any more evidence of what is really important to Douglas H. Palmer?

It certainly isn't the well being of the citizens or a rationed approach to economic development.

Doug, your cover has been blown. Why not admit it, you no longer care about anything other than furthering your own career in the spotlight.

Looks like you missed the train on this one.


Dennis said...

The problem here is you don't have the whole economic picture. What Trenton needs are jobs, and jobs that have staying power. When Trenton was at the height of it's historic success it was all because of jobs.

These plans propose bringing thousands and thousands of jobs to Trenton. We can build pretty neighborhoods forever and never get rid of the crime, bad schools, and filth that infests our city; jobs and economic success is the only way to bring this dead city back. CLASS A OFFICE BUILDINGS ARE THE VERY BEST RATABLE, IN ANY CITY.

We have an 8 Million dollar budget gap. How do we solve this problem? How do we put more cops on the street when we have an 8 Million dollar budget gap??? We can't. Period. I talked to some East Ward officers who told me that their daytime force has been cut from 11 officers to 4 because of budget shortfalls. 4 OFFICERS FOR THE WHOLE EAST WARD! That just can't be safe in any city, let alone Trenton.

The properties on the corner of Greenwood and Walnut bring in less then 200,000 dollars in property taxes, do you know how much a 25 story Class A, LEED Platinum certified office building with a major corporate tenant would bring in? $2,500,000 even with AGGRESSIVE tax abatements. That's more then 1/3 of our budget gap covered. Now put up three of those buildings and BAM, balanced budget.

This is only one side of the story. Look at any major city that has lead projects with Major Class A office space. Silver Springs, MD - Stamford, CT, all these cities city amazing amounts of secondary development around that office space. People want to live where they work, and the speculators know that. They will come in and fix old historic homes and put up retail space.

This project, particularly Vista Center, which pays close attention to environmental concerns and the aesthetics and connectivity of a public plaza with public art, will be the catalyst to totally re-invent Trenton.

That is why these eminent domain issues and issues of historic buildings are MINOR in the face of the overwhelming economic boom these buildings will bring to Trenton in the form of amazing ratables and waves of secondary development.

Greg Forester said...

Is this the real Dennis Gonzalez?

Old Mill Hill said...


No one has argued that Trenton does not need jobs. Plentiful, well paying jobs.

You are correct that it was the availability of employment that drove the city’s good fortunes in its heyday.

However, that really was not the point of the post. The point was that the absentee Mayor showed how little he is committed to the process of including the community in any planning. This has been a hallmark of his administration…at least in these last two terms.

This is about a man who is more concerned with his image, his marketability and his success than about the image, marketability and success of the city he professes to serve.

Nobody said anything about building “pretty little neighborhoods forever.”

In addition, nobody can guarantee that plopping three giant new project down around the train station will bring “thousands and thousands of jobs” to Trenton.

Remember the proposed Keating development on the site at Hamilton and S. Broad Street, across from the Arena? That was going to bring jobs.

It didn’t happen and the scale was smaller. How can you think three large-scale projects are going to be more successful (for anyone but the developers)?

What about the Trenton Town Center? What’s happened with that project? Same thing: green building, mixed use. What’s the status? Doesn’t look like much progress there, does it.

Further, what’s wrong with adapting and utilizing the existing buildings before we build more?

Moreover, if we need/must build new…why do we have to trample existing buildings to do it?

We don’t.

If we had truly committed leadership from Mr. Palmer and his cadre of sycophants, we might be a leg up on some of this.

Instead, we have an empty suit devoid of any workable plans and commitment to the city of Trenton.

Dennis said...

Again, you are confused. These buildings won't be built if major corporate tenants don't commit to filling them. That means thousands and thousands of jobs. If the developers can't find the tenants, then the buildings aren't build, and the houses stay right where they are. Also, the "Urban Hub Tax Credit" wasn't in place with those other projects, they are also too far from the train station to qualify. This tax credit it the difference and the major reason a fortune 500 company would move out of NY or Philly and into Trenton. That's why the sites were picked by these developers, and that's why historic houses can't stand in the way of this development. The sites that work, that are close enough to the station have historic houses on them so lets weight the options...
a couple houses generating almost no property tax and no jobs or a tower leased to the brim teaming with great jobs and delivering over 2.5 million in tax revenue? Seems like a fairly easy decision to me.

Perhaps the reason the citizens aren't more involved is because they are all wasting their time defending tiny little houses and missing the big picture. Trenton needs jobs, these buildings will bring jobs.

The projects you mentioned before didn't work because they couldn't get the tenants, the difference here is the tax credit, brand new in Jan, this credit, for the right company could essentially lower their effective rent to $0 per square foot. Who wouldn't want that kind of rent for a Class A LEED Platinum certified building, when they are paying 100 dollars a foot for crappy old space in NY or Philly? The tax credit makes this project an absolute home run.

This is a promise that Mayor Palmer will deliver on, this redevelopment will forever change Trenton, and in twenty years, when the city is bustling with happy, safe, employed citizens no one will even remember those houses were there.

Anonymous said...

Dennis said - "We can build pretty neighborhoods forever and never get rid of the crime, bad schools, and filth that infests our city". The Palmer administration has never built pretty neighborhoods, let's not even worry about that happening. The crime, bad schools and filth have got to be controlled before any projects will succeed or even happen here.

Old Mill Hill said...


Again, the point of the post was the lack of leadership and committement from Doug Palmer.

Thank you for your comments, but if you don't want to stick to the topic of the original post, I suggest you start your own blog.