Trenton’s historic assets are not just important to Trenton residents. They are crucial pieces of New Jersey and Mercer County heritage, and those entities have an interest in and responsibility to promote their preservation. One of the largest obstacles to historic preservation in Trenton is the availability of funding to support those efforts. As such, the city should build partnerships with the state and county to provide funding and technical assistance for historic preservation and to establish a State Historic Tax Credit program. Such a tax credit would provide homeowners, businesses, and developers with an economic incentive to help revitalize older, historic neighborhoods.
Moreover, the City must be strategic and target historic preservation efforts to areas where it is most likely to be successful. The investments to restore a home are often costly, and the market price of the home must justify the cost. There is no better example of how effective these targeted efforts can be than in the Mill Hill Neighborhood. Targeting neighborhoods will ensure that investments made in one home will have positive cumulative effects on adjacent properties, making it easier for subsequent improvements to be financially justified. Two potential locations for such efforts include the Lamberton Historic District (identified below as an area to Prioritize Investment to produce catalytic change) and the Greenwood-Hamilton District, which is well-positioned to take advantage of transit-oriented investments near the Transit Center. In each of these areas, a combination of the below-identified actions should be considered as well as new neighborhood specific strategies.
Efforts to protect historic homes in Trenton will necessarily be a long-term effort. As such, there will likely be many historic properties that will remain vacant for a number of years. In the meantime, the City should utilize the Property Conditions Study to identify historic assets and then stabilize them until the point when the market can support their rehabilitation.
The Historic Preservation Report should be used as a tool to further analyze these issues. The report should provide more detailed recommendations for specific neighborhoods and work with historic preservation experts to identify new policies and programs to support historic preservation of existing buildings.