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Gulcrapek
May 25th, 2005, 01:01 AM
XArena Motor Sports
Architect: Hillier

http://www.hillier.com > projects > cultural > XArena Motor Sports

JCMAN320
April 24th, 2008, 04:18 PM
Moving on up in Trenton

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We used to snicker at places like Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken. Loser towns. Rust belt. Has-been or never-been Jersey dumps.

And now look. These towns are hot, part of the so-called "NJ Gold Coast," brimming with Park Avenue lawyers, Wall Street bankers, financial analysts, computer geeks, artists. They're close to Manhattan, full of large spaces for good prices, and -- very appealing -- the towns themselves are exciting, edgy, historic.

So, why not Trenton? Trenton has all of the above and more. Easy access to New York and Philadelphia, a glorious housing stock, a magnificent river, a thriving canal and adjacent state park, a Frederick Law Olmsted city park, a celebrated history (no rural battlefield here -- two of Trenton's main streets were the Battle of Trenton's front line) and hospitable neighborhoods full of character and diversity.

My only question is, what's taking so long? Why isn't Trenton a premier "go-to" venue for more urban pioneers, adventurous young professionals, city-lovers with starting salaries?

I bring this up because, just last week, I stood with throngs of excited onlookers at the official opening of the renovated Broad Street Bank building. We were excited be cause this was about the best news Trenton has had since Washington routed the Hessians. Just kidding. Maybe since the opening of the Marriott Hotel at Lafayette Yard six years ago.

The miracle of the Broad Street Bank building is that, in several years, it has gone from a sorrowful, abandoned, decaying fossil, named to the Top 10 list of New Jersey's Most Endangered Historic Sites, to a handsome, viable residential and retail anchor in downtown Tren ton.

Its soaring 12 stories tout 124 one- and two-bedroom "luxury" rental apartments -- "luxury" might be a stretch, but the one- bedroom I saw last week was roomy, high-ceiled, large-windowed, energy-efficient and very pleasant. The open rooftop gives excellent views of the city and be yond. Along the sidewalk are five spaces for retail and commercial use.

This is the shocker: It's not an arm and a leg. Apartments rent for $925 to $1,510 a month; some even have "affordable" status and cost less. New Yorkers, Philadelphians, Princetonians, eat your hearts out.

Now, don't go looking for the Broad Street Bank on Broad Street. It's on the corner of East State and Montgomery streets, just a block or two from almost anywhere you've wanted to go downtown. Its name comes from its original storefront location on South Broad, at its founding in 1887. It grew so rapidly that, in 1900, its managers decided to build Tren ton's most imposing, certainly its tallest, building, on the present site. In 1913 and again in 1924, it was expanded until it became its current size. It was heralded as Trenton's first skyscraper.

For the next half century, from its prominent headquarters, the Broad Street Bank participated fully in the life and growth of the city.

In 1961, the bank moved elsewhere and the building, vacant and neglected, started deteriorating. There was talk of demolition.

The Trenton Historical Society, Preservation New Jersey and other organizations rallied support and interest in the building and, in 2005, a developer, Bayville Holdings LLC from Long Island, stepped for ward, bought the building and rehabilitated it to retail and residential units, restoring many of the unique features such as the elaborate copper cornice and terra cotta masonry.

So, here she is, a grand dame, beautifully outfitted, fit as a fiddle, ready to dance. But she needs a few more courageous dance partners. How about it, Hubby Al? Wanna move? Think of it. No more lawn to mow. No more roof to fix. No more real estate taxes to pay. Walk to the train station. Sounds good to me.


Mea Kaemmerlen lives in Plainsboro. Contact her at meakaem@aol l.com.