As you know, there is a very important economic development proposal that is up for vote in Council this week involving the creation of an “Entertainment District” for Roebling Block III. This block, adjacent to Hamilton Avenue and Route 129, is for the second phase of the block where the highly successful Roebling Lofts apartments, which is currently 80% full, is located. The second phase of the redevelopment of Roebling Block III is for commercial development including light retail, office space, restaurants and other hospitality venues. The creation of the Entertainment District is also in harmony with the Trenton 250 Master Plan.
This project, since it involves state and federal tax incentives, will create prevailing wage construction jobs and ultimately opportunities for employment at the commercial establishments on Block III. It will also be a multi-leveled structure that will enable various hospitality establishments and hence the need to create the Entertainment District. This is not unlike clusters of restaurants and bars that we see in nearby New Hope, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Jersey City and even Baltimore Harbor. It will be an exciting opportunity for our City to attract visitors from outside the area for entertainment and choice restaurant establishments.
Notwithstanding, the need for the new Ordinance creating a special entertainment district is two-fold. Specifically, Roebling Block III would need an exception to our current alcohol regulations to enable such multiple establishments to operate within 1000 feet of each other. Again, when you visit other tourist and entertainment destinations, there needs to be an exception in order for the development to house multiple hospitality venues located in the immediate vicinity. The ability to offer various restaurants choices and other shopping and entertainment venues would make the Roebling Entertainment District attractive for marketing Trenton as a destination. But most importantly, it would provide job opportunities for our residents as well as young people looking for their start in the culinary and the hospitality industry.
Secondly, since the Block III is self-contained within the block and such hospitality establishments may be on the second or other levels of the complex, it would be in violation of the current alcohol restrictions in that such establishments must face the street and be on the ground floor.
In essence, this common sense Ordinance will enable economic development to continue on the abandoned Roebling site at Block III. It is an exciting project that should have our full support. Trenton must take advantage of such economic development opportunities and encourage developers to see our city as an important place to start a business. I hope you will agree that the creation of the Roebling Entertainment District is a common sense proposal that should have our full support.
Finally, as you know, Council also serves as our local Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) Board. As such, you will have the ultimate authority to decide how many establishments will reside on Roebling Block III. This also serves to ensure that the Block is not over-developed nor houses more alcohol establishments than is necessary to be a success.
In the meantime, should you have any specific concerns or wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Very truly yours,
W. Reed Gusciora
Cell: (609) 575-1880
Office: (609) 989-3047