NJ to demolish hundreds of abandoned buildings — $11.5M bid to help Trenton
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s administration will spend $11.5 million to knock down nearly 500 abandoned buildings in Trenton, the governor said Tuesday in outlining a broader plan to improve the blighted capital city.
“It is unacceptable to me that our capital city is not the most shining city in our state,” Christie said.
Christie, speaking on block peppered with blighted, vacant buildings, said there are around 3,000 abandoned buildings around Trenton and that the city and state Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency will coordinate to strategically target residential and limited commercial properties.
“Blocks with vacant buildings like the one we’re surrounded by are more likely to have criminal activity and a higher number of police calls,” said Christie, who said studies show they also lower values of all local homes and businesses.
The State Police will spend $786,000 installing up to 150 additional surveillance cameras in high-crime areas such as housing complexes to supplement an existing 80 cameras that cover 5 percent of the city.
“City police here in Trenton can have a greater handle on the intelligence that’s going on across the city, and criminals will know that when they decide to engage in criminal activity, they might as well just look up at the camera. And the next thing is they’ll be caught,” Christie said.
Also, the state Board of Public Utilities will audit the 5,000 to 6,000 street lights in the city to see how they can be improved, especially in high crime areas.
NJ Transit police will expand the area it patrols at the Trenton train station. The state will help city police with shooting investigations. And state officials will step up enforcement near bodegas and bars, such as enforcing the hours they can be open and more stringent enforcement of liquor laws.
Christie said gains have been made since 2010 in terms of both economic development and safety in cities such as Camden and Newark. Camden saw just one murder between January and March this year, he said.
“There will be lots of people who will say that these steps can’t make a difference in a city like Trenton,” Christie said. “I would harken back again to Newark and to Camden. The fact is that those cities are markedly different today than they were eight years ago.”