Downtown Trenton — Photo by Mary Iuvone for Real Estate NJ
By Joshua Burd
Downtown Trenton is poised to support the development more than 700 new residential units over the next five years, anchored by a contingent of younger singles and couples.
Those are among the findings of a newly released market study by Greater Trenton, a nonprofit aimed at guiding economic development in the capital city. Conducted in tandem with the Trenton Parking Authority, the study set out to determine the market potential and optimum market position for newly introduced housing in the downtown, finding demand for up to 760 housing units over the next five years.
Demand for up to 600 of those units includes apartment rentals, the study found, with the remaining mix including for-sale condominiums and row houses or townhomes. Younger singles and couples represented the largest share of that market at 68 percent.
“We’re excited about Trenton’s growing residential market demand, which will help fuel economic activity throughout the city,” Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson said. “More residential and mixed-use development will enhance downtown Trenton as a sought-after living destination as well as a premier state capitol and a business destination.”
The study was conducted by Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc., which has a national reputation for innovative market analysis based on its proprietary target market methodology, according to a news release. For the purposes of the study, the boundaries of the downtown area include the D&R Canal to the north, Route 1 to the east and south and the Delaware River to the west.
“We remain dedicated to the development of downtown Trenton, particularly to serving the community’s increasingly important parking needs,” said Andrew Worek, chairman of the Trenton Parking Authority. “We will do everything we can to promote commerce, support economic renewal, and ensure that downtown Trenton development is successful.”
The study area encompasses two key commercial corridors as well as what’s known as the new Creek to Canal Creative District. The report also takes into consideration the migration, mobility, demographic and lifestyle characteristics of households currently living within defined draw areas to determine the depth and breadth of the potential market for new housing within the downtown Trenton study area.
“Combining Trenton’s affordability and multimodal transit orientation with its quality of life assets in downtown Trenton including its riveting history and historic buildings, vibrant arts community, landmark museums, parks, upcoming neighborhoods and more, it’s no wonder why there’s a growing demand for housing here,” said George Sowa, founding CEO of Greater Trenton. “However, to maximize Trenton’s residential market, it will be important to focus on developing higher-density housing types while also redeveloping existing buildings in Downtown Trenton.”
According to the American Community Survey, which measures population mobility, the city of Trenton — where nearly 17.8 percent of the city’s population moved from one dwelling unit to another from 2014 to 2015 — has a mobility rate higher than the national average of just under 12 percent. Some 64 percent of Trenton’s population that changed residences between 2014 and 2015 moved from elsewhere in Mercer County, while another 21.5 percent moved from another county in New Jersey, most notably from Middlesex, Burlington, Somerset and Monmouth counties or from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
“The fact that nearly 50 percent of younger singles and couples are projected to move to downtown Trenton from areas outside of Mercer County, speaks volumes about the city’s appeal to a population of millennials,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said, touting Trenton’s history and nearby Mercer County attractions such as Grounds for Sculpture, Princeton University Art Museum and Washington Crossing Historic Park.