One major problem with the city of Trenton is that many of the municipalities around it have the kinds of attractions and businesses that one would normally want in a capital city. The Quakerbridge Mall is a perfect example of this.
Before the riots of the 1960s, anyone who wanted to go shopping in a department store would have to go to downtown Trenton, which had hosts of stores lining the downtown area. Today, these stores and shops have relocated to the ugly edifice in Lawrence Township at the junction of Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road, a seven-minute drive from my home near downtown Trenton.
Wouldn’t people rather walk the streets of an attractive downtown area in a small manageable city, than walk the ugly floors of a massive mall surrounded by seas of ugly surface parking and small, ugly standalone restaurants?
Somehow the city must attract first-rate businesses to take gambles on the downtown area. There needs to be some sort of attraction; whether this is through tax abatements or reduced sales tax rates, I don’t know. I am not a public policy major. There is a small viable area of downtown on Warren Street and State Street that should serve as a blueprint for what the city should want. Right now many of the businesses located there are fast food restaurants and dollar stores that are places one doesn’t want for an upscale downtown area.
If the city made a conscious effort to attract upscale businesses that could serve the regional populace, people would probably come. Of course they would have to be assured the public safety problem had been addressed, but the downtown area – the main location of state government and workers – does not suffer from the same types of problems that plague the other neighborhoods of the city.