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Trenton’s State of the City highlights economic development, drop in crime

October 22, 2015

TRENTON — During Thursday's State of the City address, Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson looked back on the previous year's accomplishments and laid out goals for the year ahead.

"Trenton is in a better place now to capture new opportunity and investment than it has been in many years," he said in a packed City Hall council chambers. "Under my leadership, and with the capable, guiding hands of my administration and support from City Council and community leaders, we can realize the goals that we set out to achieve."

Jackson cited progress on economic development and public safety.

He said there are more than 600 market-rate housing units and 50,000 square feet of retail and office space coming online over the next 18 to 24 months. He pointed to two projects — Roebling Block 3 and the Bell Telephone building — as examples of redeveloping long-vacant buildings into vibrant parts of the city.

"Trenton's revival has begun," Jackson said. "Get on board and be part of our intentional and successful economic turnaround."

The city's economic development plan is being guided by the Trenton 250 master plan initiative and the citywide market study that focuses on five pillars: density, diversity, industry, retail development and quality of life.

"We must take advantage of new economic trends — such as the millennials boom, the renewed interest in urban living and the rise of the creative class — if we want to become a stronger community that is capable of forging its own destiny," Jackson said.

Greater Trenton, the new public-private partnership that brings together corporate, academic and philanthropic organizations, will help to attract private investment and renewed energy to the downtown, he said.

The mayor also vowed to continue addressing the city's vacant properties and blight. Among the initiatives are a vacant property registration, auctions of city-owned properties and a homesteading program that aims to increase home ownership."We are translating negative value into future revenue and leveraging existing assets to establish new resources," Jackson said.

He said that strengthening public safety is also key to the city's revival, pointing to an all-time low crime rate.

Violent crime is down 30 percent, shootings are down 39 percent, homicides are down 41 percent and burglaries, thefts and robberies are down 17 percent.

The addition of 34 new officers, having more officers patrol the streets, an upgraded ShotSpotter and the "My Block" initiative have helped to cut crime and build stronger relationships with the community, he said. 

He also said that police will be adding body cameras.

During his speech, Jackson announced coming initiatives, though it was not immediately clear how quickly some of them would come to fruition.

An initiative to end veteran homelessness by 2016 is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, and the city's four senior centers will soon undergo renovations.

The city is gearing up to launch the White House's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, which aims to provide more opportunities to boys and young men of color.

Also in the works is a year-round youth jobs initiative.

The city also plans to add parking stations to increase the parking utility's revenue and efficiency and secure more grants for arts programming, Jackson said.

"With my team and with all of you at my side — not on the sidelines — we have the framework of leadership and support to make sustainable progress in our city's economic rebirth," he said. "By working together, we will build our future and it will be a bright future."