What’s considered a major eyesore in Trenton for decades will soon be a brand new nursing school for Thomas Edison State College. Although there’s not an official closing date, the school acquired the vacant Glen Cairns Arms site through a disposition agreement and has plans to demolish it this summer. The entire project will cost approximately $16.9 million.
Both city and college officials say this transaction was a positive experience. And it’s already acting as a catalyst for change.
“We have some vacant buildings that are to the left of me that continue down the way that are vacant, and we already have people who are already calling in to now request to come on board and see if they occupy them,” said Trenton City Council President Phyllis Holly-Ward.
But there still remains more than 2,000 vacant or abandoned properties in the city. Mostly the economy is to blame. In the Wilbur section, there is another demolition project taking place. Although there are no definite plans for the site, community members say it helps to deter crime. And local leaders are hoping it will be part of a larger revitalization project.
“It is one of our most blighted or challenged areas, however, which is the backdrop for our transit system and we’re now in the process of trying to develop that area and make it a transit hub. Hopefully commuters will want to come into new housing there,” Holly-Ward said.
The Trenton council president says they are updating their master plan, but there still remains some major challenges to solving the issue.
“We have to do a better job of mending our threads. Trenton has a whole bunch of projects that are going on and now we have to bring them together under one plan,” Holly-Ward said.
City officials are in the process of compiling a list of vacant properties so they can decide whether they should be demolished, rehabilitated or sold.
“That way we know where those abandoned properties are and we can look at doing neighborhood development and working with the community and residents who live there so that we’re able to take a neighborhood approach not just one building over here and another building over there, which may not have the greatest impact,” said Staci Berger of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
Potential sources of funding to raze buildings in Trenton are from state loans or community development block grant funding.