Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora officially introduced legislation yesterday that he says will help spark revitalization in Trenton by forcing state offices currently occupying prime waterfront real estate to relocate in order to pave the way for private investments in more visitor-friendly attractions.
Gusciora’s bill (A-4409) would require any state department or agency with offices located between 100 – 400 Riverview Plaza in Trenton to relocate to another location within the confines of the capitol city.
“If we continue to maintain state offices at this location, we are squandering a huge opportunity for economic development in a city that is desperately in need of revitalization,” Gusciora said. “The potential opportunities to develop business and recreational attractions in this area are enormous. This would be a win-win for the city. Government offices move out of prime real estate, but they stay within the confines of the capital district in order to maintain the viability of our downtown.”
The relocation of state departments and agencies would allow for economic development in a prime area of real estate in Trenton, Gusciora said. Riverview Plaza is centrally located with access to both the Delaware River and Route 29 and adjacent both Rho restaurant and Arm & Hammer Stadium, home of the Yankees minor league team, the Trenton Thunder.
Gusciora said the bill takes a pragmatic approach to redeveloping the area, and would not simply force state offices out and leave the buildings vacant, but instead require that prospective developers are lined up first.
The bill would require the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to seek to attract private entities to occupy all state vacated office spaces at the Riverview Plaza buildings, which are currently occupied, in part, by the state Department of Education and the Office of Information Technology.
“If we really want Trenton to succeed and get real revitalization moving, we have to take a more aggressive, but practical approach,” Gusciora said. “Allowing the Department of Education to continue occupying prime waterfront real estate is nonsensical. So many cities have harnessed the lure of their waterfront to spur redevelopment. We need to follow that path.”
The bill would also require that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority give priority consideration to any private entity running an authority-administered business assistance program. The Economic Development Authority, with the approval of the State Treasurer, is authorized to modify its existing business assistance programs where permissible by law, to give bonuses or other enhanced incentives to private entities that occupy the office space identified in the bill.
The bill requires the authority to work cooperatively with other state departments, agencies, boards, commissions, and authorities to explore and implement opportunities to direct resources to a private entity seeking to occupy the office space identified in the bill. The bill has been referred to the Assembly’s commerce and economic development committee.