On May 18, 2021 in Trenton, New Jersey state and local officials celebrated the groundbreaking for historic 150-170 South Broad Street and the historic Van Sciver Building in a city that has long struggled to revitalize.
“This is an exciting day for the City of Trenton, Mercer County, and the State of New Jersey,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “The redevelopment of this historically significant site, with new housing units and retail space, marks a new chapter in Trenton’s revitalization.”
Besides Governor Murphy, the groundbreaking was attended by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, State Treasurer Liz Muoio, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Executive Director Melanie R. Walter, RPM Development representatives, and other officials.
“The revitalization and creation of this high-impact, mixed-income property provides families with essential housing opportunities with centralized access to outstanding community assets,” said Walter. “We are honored to provide capital funding to assist in the transformation 150-170 South Broad Street in its expansion of housing opportunities.”
The Van Sciver Building was built at 160 South Broad Street in the early 1930s to house a thriving furniture business on the bustling South Broad Street corridor in downtown Trenton. Even as South Broad Street experienced a wide range of changes over the past century, the Van Sciver building continued to serve Trenton.
“This project goes beyond redevelopment. It is community building,” said Lt. Governor Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and NJHMFA board chair. “It preserves and honors the history of the site while utilizing a vacant space to create new mixed-use and mixed-income housing and business opportunities.”
The Van Sciver building was formerly owned by the State Treasury Department to house State offices. Treasury committed the property to surplus and sold it at auction, returning State-owned assets to private hands to enable its transformation into valuable real estate once again.
“This is exactly the type of forward-thinking transformation that EO40 was designed to help facilitate,” said State Treasurer Muoio. “We are thrilled that Treasury was able to play a pivotal role in jumpstarting the revitalization of this historic area and we look forward to assisting in any way possible as this project moves forward.”
Through Executive Order 40, Governor Murphy created the New Jersey State Capital Partnership, tasked to provide an effective and efficient mechanism for the State to join with the City of Trenton and Mercer County government to create and execute strategies for the City’s revitalization and economic development, as set forth in the Trenton 250 plan. This plan calls for the redevelopment of the City in a manner that preserves open space, conserves natural resources, increases multi-modal transportation options, provides housing opportunities, and promotes its cultural, historical and recreational assets. 150-170 South Broad Street and the Van Sciver Building is a key development in the revitalization of Trenton.
“Mercer County is only as strong as our Capital City, and the adaptive reuse of the culturally significant Van Sciver property is a prime example of how, through creative thinking, we have been able to conserve not just a building but to preserve its heritage and improve the community surrounding it,” said Mercer County Executive Hughes. “The Van Sciver project is another link in the chain of developments along the South Broad Street corridor, including the ongoing Mercer County Courthouse project, which celebrates Trenton’s past while making it relevant to the future.”
This project from RPM Development with NJHMFA financing will create new life for this important landmark. The next chapter in the Van Sciver story will include a residential community with premier amenities, an outdoor plaza that celebrates the history of Mill Hill and Trenton, and new retail spaces along South Broad Street that will include over 300 feet of prime frontage from the Assunpink Creek to Livingston Street.
“RPM Development is thrilled to be writing a new chapter for the Van Sciver building on Broad Street,” said Susannah Henschel, Vice President of Development, RPM Development Group. “Working alongside the State of New Jersey, NJHMFA, the City of Trenton, and local stakeholders, we are eager to start transforming these vacant buildings into a new community that will both house Trentonians and serve them through the retail spaces.”
The Van Sciver Building will be folded into a brand-new community as a state-of-the art mixed-use building with underground parking, a public plaza, and premier residential amenities. Once this transformation is complete, the currently vacant site will become a hub of activity centered around 120 residential rental units and over 7,500 square feet of retail space opening onto a plaza overlooking the creek.
The site is teeming with history and is adjacent to the Historic Mill Hill District, the location of the original mills of Trenton, Second Battle of Trenton, and the entry of George Washington into the city in 1789. The new building’s public promenade and plaza will seek to honor the history of the immediate surroundings. The building will include 120 residential units with one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations. The project will have 60% of the units priced at unrestricted, market rate rents and 40% of the units will be affordable to households making 60% or less of the Area Median Income.
“Helping Trenton realize its untapped potential through these types of transformative projects is exactly what we envisioned with the N.J. State Capital Partnership,” said Trenton Mayor Gusciora. “A nexus of state, city and private resources has made it possible to restore the glory of these historic vacant buildings, turning them into brand new apartments with ground floor retail spaces that will undoubtedly be a catalyst for further investment and development in the Capital City.”
NJHMFA, the state leader in affordable housing, provided construction and permanent loan financing through the 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. This development was also made possible through a commitment of $1,500,000 from the City of Trenton in HOME Funds and through RPM Development equity.
The LIHTC program is the most prolific source of funding for new affordable rental apartments for residents. One of the most effective features of the LIHTC program is each state’s ability to craft its own allocation plan and define the criteria for awarding tax credits. New Jersey has one of the most innovative LIHTC programs in the country. Since the inception of the LIHTC program, more than 60,000 apartments have been created in New Jersey. No direct funding comes from the New Jersey Treasury for the program.
The City of Trenton uses HOME funds for a variety of housing activities, according to local housing needs. Eligible uses of funds include; tenant-based rental assistance, housing rehabilitation, assistance to homebuyers, and new construction of housing.
The site sits across the street from the Mercer County Court House, just steps from the heart of downtown Trenton, and includes three parcels making up almost 1.50 acres. Residents will be located within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, bars, retail, and transit options including bus, regional rail and Amtrak at the Trenton Transit Center (0.6 miles).
All units will have the same access to residential amenities within the building. Residential units will boast individually controlled heating and cooling systems, walk-in closets, tile backsplashes, breakfast bars, and modern light fixtures. Energy efficient design practices, building systems, and finishes will be employed during construction to help ensure residents live in a sustainable community. Other resident amenities include a top floor resident lounge, WIFI connected work stations, laundry rooms, a fitness center, an amenity terrace on the second floor, a roof deck overlooking the historic Assunpink Creek on the fourth floor, electric car charging, bike storage, and two levels of parking including 168 spaces.
RPM Development is one of the leading developers of affordable housing in New Jersey. RPM has developed residential communities that are home to thousands of New Jerseyans and represent hundreds of millions of dollars in community investment across the state. Their work has included new construction on underutilized land, the adaptive reuse of industrial properties, the restoration of historic buildings, and multi-phase initiatives to increase affordable housing options in urban and suburban communities.
NJHMFA, an affiliate of DCA, is a statewide and national leader in providing and advocating for affordable housing and homeownership. The Agency provides financing to developers to create quality homes and provides mortgage loans and down payment and closing cost assistance to help homebuyers achieve their dream of homeownership.
Photos courtesy of Office of Governor Murphy.