September 21, 2019
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Purchasing City-Owned Property


The City must comply with specific procedures established by State law in order to sell the property that it owns.  These procedures provide for a variety of means by which City-owned property may be sold, depending on its location, size and other factors.  The following is a description of the most common ways in which property is sold by the City. 


Public Sale

The City periodically holds public auctions, in which members of the public may bid to purchase City-owned properties.  The purpose of the auctions is to make certain City-owned properties available for purchase by qualified parties interested in rehabilitating them and returning them to the City’s tax rolls.  Auctions typically include both residential and commercial properties, as well as vacant lots.  City real estate auctions are advertised on the City's website, and provide a link for required pre-registration.


You may contact the Department of Housing and Economic Development to obtain information about the next scheduled auction. If the City-owned property you are interested in purchasing is not included in an upcoming auction, you may make a written request to to include the property in the next auction.


Property Sold Without the Need for Public Bidding 

In addition to public sales at auction, the City may sell property by private sale without the need for public bidding.  This is most commonly done when a property is located within one of the City's many Redevelopment Areas, is an undersized vacant lot, or is being sold to a non-profit organization.  Each of these situations is addressed below.



Property within a Redevelopment Area: 

Redevelopment Areas are geographic areas of the City that have been specifically designated as being in need of redevelopment or rehabilitation pursuant to State law.  Once an area of the City is designated as a Redevelopment Area, a Redevelopment area plan is adopted which sets forth the redevelopment area objectives, building specifications and other requirements specific to the area.  All the redevelopment area plans are on the City’s website. Click here to review existing redevelopment area plans.



If the property you are interested in acquiring from the City is located within a Redevelopment Area, the City may sell the property to you for redevelopment or rehabilitation without public bidding.  The City will consider factors such as your development experience and financial viability when deciding whether you are qualified to acquire and develop a property.  As previously mentioned, property located within a Redevelopment Area must be developed and used in accordance with the applicable Redevelopment Plan.  To express your interest in acquiring and developing property located within a Redevelopment Area and set up a meeting to discuss your development proposal, please send a written request to  the Director of Housing and Economic Development. 


The City also periodically issues Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) seeking a developer for a certain project located within a Redevelopment Area.  If you respond to an RFP or RFQ and are the winning bidder, you will be designated as the exclusive developer of the project and commence the negotiation with the City of a disposition agreement setting forth the terms and conditions of your acquisition and development of the property.  To obtain information about current RFPs and RFQs, check the city website at


Undersized Vacant Lots:  The City may sell a property to an adjacent property owner by private sale if it is less than the minimum size required for development under the City zoning ordinance and it does not have any improvements upon it.  If more than one person owns property adjacent to the lot, the City must send written notification to both adjacent property owners offering the property for sale by sealed bid and stating the minimum purchase price. The City is required to accept the highest bid received.  It should be noted that property acquired in this manner may be located within or outside of a Redevelopment Area. To express your interest in purchasing a specific property that qualifies to be sold in this manner, please send a letter of interest to the Director of the Department of Housing and Economic Development.


Non-profit Organizations:  The City may sell property not needed for a public purpose to certain non-profit organizations by private sale for nominal consideration.  Properties sold to such organizations must be used for the purposes of the organization and not for commercial business, trade or manufacturing.  If they are used in violation of this restriction, title to the property can revert back to the City.  Non-profit organizations which may acquire property from the City in this manner include:  volunteer fire companies, veterans associations, animal shelters, historical societies and organizations that principally provide educational, recreation, medical or social services to the public.  In addition, nonprofits may acquire property from the City in this manner for the purpose of building or rehabilitating residential property for resale, provided that any profits must be applied to the cost of acquiring and rehabilitating other City-owned residential property.  It should be noted that property acquired in this manner may be located within or outside of a Redevelopment Area. To determine whether your organization may acquire a specific City-owned property in this manner, please contact the Department of Housing and Economic Development.



Pricing of Properties


 The purchase price of City-owned property is established by the Director of the Department of Housing and Economic Development and requires approval by Trenton City Council. Prices are typically based on factors such as the value of the property and the condition of the property. With respect to auctions and the sale of undersized vacant lots, the City establishes a minimum purchase price and the property ultimately is sold to the highest bidder.



Restrictions on the Development and/or Use of Property Purchased from the City


All property located within the City must be developed and used in accordance with any applicable Redevelopment Plans and all other applicable laws and regulations, including zoning regulations, redevelopment laws, the City Code and the State Uniform Construction Code.  Certain properties may be subject to additional requirements. 




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