In New Jersey, smart growth means more than just concentrating development in centers to preserve green space. It means redeveloping and revitalizing existing urban centers so that growth can be supported with existing infrastructure. To this end, staff of the Planning Division have been facilitating a redevelopment planning project for the area where the City of Trenton abuts the first-generation suburban areas of Ewing and Lawrence Townships.

With substantial support from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in 2004, Mercer County invited an Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel to visit the area for a week, to interview local stakeholders, and to create a conceptual vision plan for redeveloping the area. A PDF copy of theULI report can be downloaded here. Among the Panel's recommendations was continued collaboration between Mercer County and the three municipal governments to drive additional detailed planning studies. The ULI also recommended 'branding' the area with the name 'Mercer Crossings.'

In 2005 and beyond, representatives from Trenton, Lawrence, and Ewing met regularly with Mercer County staff and other key interested stakeholders, including the DCA, the Ewing Redevelopment Agency, and the Municipal Land Use Center at The College of New Jersey. This group discussed the ULI vision plan in depth, considered specific recommendations, and came up with some additional recommendations. The outcome of these deliberations is a memo outlining short term recommendations on which to act. In support of the committee's work, the Municipal Land Use Center researched and presented a white paper on mechanisms for inter-governmental cooperation to support economic development.

Working with this informal "Mercer Crossings Advisory Committee," Mercer County has arranged for other plannning studies. These included an evaluation of the ULI recommendations regarding street improvements, undertaken by planners and engineers at theDelaware Valley Regional Plannning Commission. (A Copy of the report will be posted here when it is finalized.) Mercer County also applied to the NJ DCA for a grant for a study centered on the Trenton Farmers' Market, which the ULI had recommended as a potential centerpiece for attracting economic redevelopment. For this project, the County hired the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a world leader in developing public markets, to create a redevelopment plan for the Farmers' Market and nearby parcels. The PPS concept plan was completed in fall 2006.

On July 6, 2007, County Executive Brian Hughes joined with mayors and state officials to announce two new planning initiatives (Press Release - HTML Version, PDF Version). With a grant from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, the Trenton Farmers' Market is implementing early phase recommendations from the Project for Public Spaces. With the assistance of Faridy Veisz Fraytak architects, the Market is preparing a civil engineering survey of existing facilities, drafting a site circulation concept plan, designing a new fa├žade for Spruce Street, and researching improvements to exterior walls and interior lighting. This is a Trenton Farmers' Market project, not a Mercer County project, but reports and documents will be posted here as they are released.

The other new initiative is a Mercer County project funded by a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission's Transportation and Community Development Initiative (2007 TCDI grant proposal). The goal of the project is to develop traffic engineering designs for Princeton Avenue (Brunswick Circle to Olden Avenue) and Spruce Street (Princeton Avenue to Prospect Street) that will enhance site access and improve travel safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. For this project, the County has engineering consultants under contract (AECOM Transportation) to develop computer simulations to test alternative improvements, develop sketch plans for initially preferred alternatives, and develop near and long term implementation plans. Public outreach for the project included focus groups with local property owners and public meetings on April 22 and May 6, 2008. Draft recommendations were presented to the public on January 29, 2009.

To comment on draft recommendations or for further information on this project, please contact the Planning Division by telephone 609-989-6545 or by email.