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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

City Council

Trenton City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to give Trenton-born Dan Brenna and his company, Capital Real Estate Group, sole development rights to the redevelopment area around the Trenton Train Station.

The Trenton Train Station is currently undergoing a $75 million renovation that, along with the planned development announced Tuesday, is part of what Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer called one of the city's seven "priority projects."

Mr. Brenna presented his preliminary plans for the area at Tuesday's City Council meeting, saying he currently controls 75% of the footprint of the redevelopment area through outright purchase or advanced negotiation.

Mr. Brenna led off the presentation with a graph showing Trenton's population shifts, including an increase during 100 years of a manufacturing economy and decline during the change to a service economy following World War II, and stabilization during the term of Mayor Palmer.

"It's no coincidence that the greatest period of stabilization came during the Palmer administration," said Mr. Brenna.

Mr. Brenna said he believes the forecasted population increase in New Jersey means there will be a need for more office and residential space, something that Trenton could capitalize on.

"This is a unique moment in Trenton's history," said Mr. Brenna. "We can reignite another boom in the city."

Mayor Palmer also remarked on the favorable climate for a transit village, especially considering events transpiring in surrounding municipalities building similar facilities.

"Unlike some municipalities, we welcome development," said Palmer. "While they fight, we'll work."

Mr. Brenna said he was seeking unanimous approval for a one-year designation of development rights to the area over the next year, and he received it after minimal questioning from the City Council.

Several of the members simply wished him luck and praised his efforts.

Councilman Segura said he supported the project 100 percent, and Councilman Bethea asked if the project was viable in the face of the attraction of the "sun belt" and outsourcing.

Councilman Coston asked if the project would be mainly commercial and if it would include housing, and Mr. Brenna responded by saying it was mainly commercial, with the hope that the commercial development would cause residential development around the project.

Council President Pintella asked for a construction cost estimate and Mr. Brenna said it would roughly cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and could possibly begin in three years.

Douglas Palmer said the administration would work on plans that were acceptable and then return in a year or so for approval.

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