Gusciora: City to Consider Purchase and Development of Dormant Westside Plaza
Trenton has been paying $42,000 a month for empty plaza since 2009
Trenton, N.J. – Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced a plan to develop new city services and commercial opportunities by purchasing the Westside Plaza at 215 North Hermitage Street as an alternative to the 2009 leasing agreement that costs the city over $42,000 a month with no benefit to area residents.
“The one-sided 2009 leasing agreement is an awful deal for the people of Trenton, and we’re stuck with it until 2029,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Not only are we still on the hook for over $5 million from now until the end of the contract, the site remains empty and generates zero economic benefit for the West Ward. Purchasing the property outright opens the door for new development opportunities, including a Trenton Water Works customer service center, public library branch, and more commercial tenants that would provide revenue for the city.”
In March 2009, the city entered into a 20-year lease agreement with Westside Plaza LLC in order to develop the site for a new municipal court. However, the court project was abandoned, and the city attempted to extricate itself from the lease in July 2010. Litigation ensued, and the city lost on summary judgement in March 2012. The property has remained vacant that entire time.
Trenton currently pays $42,135 per month, which has been going up 10 percent every five years per the lease agreement. The city is still bound to pay $5,009,052 over the remainder of the contract.
After a legal review determined that further litigation would be unsuccessful, the Gusciora Administration instead explored opportunities to buy the property. The city is currently negotiating a price to purchase the Westside Plaza under the buyout clause of the contract.
Owning the site would make it worth investing in permanent enhancements to resident services that go beyond 2029, including a Trenton Water Works customer service center, a public library branch for the West Ward, and a woman’s health center. The city would also acquire the surrounding commercial units that could be leased out for additional revenue.
The mayor hosted a tour of the shopping plaza on Aug. 27, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. with City Council members and Trenton community leaders and presented a rendering of the project from Drezner Architecture LLC.