This initiative is aimed taking advantage of the retail opportunities in Trenton’s residential areas, many of which are composed of various ethnic groups, to help create vibrant commercial areas in the neighborhood business districts while filling vacant commercial space. Neighborhood retail opportunities are the strongest in the West Ward, where demand exists for almost every retail category. In the North and East Wards, demand is strong for general merchandise, food service, clothing and accessories, and health and personal care stores. The goal is to support the growth of unique/niche businesses that can serve both residents and visitors.
Overall, the growth and expansion of neighborhood retail will provide needed services to residents while creating new business and job opportunities. In addition, stronger neighborhood retail services will make neighborhoods more attractive to potential and current residents, which will support the City’s effort to make Trenton a choice location for residency.
To execute this strategy, the City must identify specific locations to expand retail in each ward, especially locations capable of accommodating larger format retail (e.g. supermarket). This information should be compiled into a neighborhood retail database to help prospective businesses identify locations. Combining this with a pop-up storefront initiative in targeted neighborhood locations will likely help new business test the market in Trenton.
Moreover, the City should support existing businesses by developing a façade improvement program for commercial corridors and consider combining it with an upper floor vacancy restoration program. Focusing the Signature Restaurants and Retail Program on areas with strong potential for niche commercial growth (for example, Chambersburg) and aggressively marketing these areas may help them grow quickly.
Throughout this effort, it will be critical for the City to provide support services to existing and prospective business owners. The City should create a business development portal as a "one-stop" resource of information for new and existing businesses and a single port of entry in any dealings with the City (see Technical Assistance Program for Retailers). This portal should provide resources necessary to start and sustain business, which can range from financial to educational, physical, and programmatic resources. Equally important, the portal should include information on how to access the powerful NJ Economic Development Authority incentives for small businesses.
An important part of expanding neighborhood retail will be capitalizing on the consumer habits and entrepreneurial capabilities of Trenton’s immigrant population. Moreover, the City will need to support the growth of new businesses from within Trenton’s population. As a result, this initiative is closely linked with the Support Growth of Neighborhood-Based Businesses and Immigrant Entrepreneurs Initiative.
Among other funding sources, the City should utilize Urban Enterprise Zone funds to assist existing businesses and support new business development, leverage the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) investments in the NRTC neighborhoods, and utilize the incentive powers in the tax abatement ordinance and the redevelopment laws to support rehabilitation and redevelopment.