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Trenton Makes (Its Case as a Green Hub), The World Takes

Trenton Ferry

We are not made of stone. There’s a wide streak of New Jersey Partisanship running through gbNYC, which means that every bit of good green news coming out of the Garden State is greeted by — well, we don’t pop champagne at gbNYC World Headquarters, but everyone digs it. We reported on Trenton’s very ambitious Trenton Green Initiative way back in June, and have followed — with great interest and not a little bit of home-state pride — two large-scale mixed-use green real estate development projects in Jersey’s state capital. The first — Full Spectrum’s 2.33 acre, $175 million urban in-fill mixed-use Trenton Town Center development — got off to an exciting start in 2007, but is by all accounts dead. But HHG’s Trenton Ferry, a new and only slightly less shoot-for-the-moon residential project, is very much alive in downtown Trenton. Chalk as much of this up to Jersey bias as you’d like, but it seems pretty cool.

While Trenton Town Center didn’t work out, Stephen’s point in his original post about that project is as true now as it was then. “With infrastructure already in place and easy access by foot or mass transit to jobs and other amenities,” he wrote, “cities like Trenton present a tremendous opportunity for green developers and policy-makers.” Trenton delivers all of that — including (fun fact alert) Cadwalader Park, a Frederick Law Olmstead design of nearly 100 acres — thanks to a solid mass transit system and block after block of solid, historic real estate. (Also, it has its own indigenous style of pizza, the very awesome tomato pie) Trenton Ferry has taken advantage of all that Trenton has to offer (well, maybe not the pizza bit) in a big way.

HHG has restored four historic pre-Victorian townhomes and kitted them out with Energy Star windows and appliances and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, while their 18-unit Cracker Factory lofts inhabit the circa-1896 Exton Bakery building in which the familiar “oyster cracker” originated. The three-structure Everett Corners development, too, is housed in structures over a century old. Leaving aside the inherent sustainability (and good taste) of restoring stately old brick buildings rather than tearing them down and throwing up something new, Trenton Ferry has also incorporated green elements in every facet of the development. The Cracker Factory’s common areas are heated, cooled and lit by rooftop photovoltaic panels and all the apartments in that development — and some at Everett Corners — come with optional photovoltaic hook-ups. EnergyStar appliances come standard with every apartment, and efficient 15 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) electric heat pumps power the central heating and AC systems in every condo. In short, Trenton Ferry is exactly the sort of development gbNYC loves — respectful, graceful, efficient, and adjacent to Minor League baseball and some really great pizza.

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