RMJM Hillier and the Capital Real Estate Group earlier this week released additional details about a planned 25-story, 700,000-square-foot office tower in Trenton, New Jersey that will seek a LEED Platinum rating from USGBC. The city approved a site plan for the project in late 2008; the tower would rise immediately adjacent to Trenton’s train station which is serviced by both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.
RMJM’s design concept was not only to create an iconic piece of architecture for Trenton, but also to attract traffic from the train station by incorporating public space into the tower’s site plan. By keeping the tower’s profile more slender than bulky, RMJM accommodated the contours of that site plan, which will also include a number of pedestrian walkways that should improve access from the train station (which is in the final stages of a $75 million renovation) to the rest of downtown Trenton. The Vista Center will also include 14,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
Green design features will include high ceilings and natural daylighting, low-VOC interior finishes, and a high performance HVAC system. A roof-mounted photovoltaic system will power the building’s common areas and the building’s glass facade is low-E. The tower will also use a graywater system for site irrigation and incorporate recycled-content structural building materials.
No details on financing or when construction would commence, but Trenton native Daniel Brenna, a former Wall Street financier who is leading the effort on behalf of Capital Real Estate Group, anticipates a twenty-four month construction schedule once groundbreaking takes place. The project team also includes Langan Engineering, Turner Construction, and sustainability engineers Buro Happold. Cushman and Wakefield is the tower’s exclusive leasing agent.
Transit-oriented development, particularly in New Jersey cities like Trenton and Newark, is fantastic, but enthusiasm over LEED Platinum should be tempered given that the project will include a parking garage with space for 1100 cars. Regardless, Trenton is perfectly situated along the Northeast Corridor with easy access to New York, Philadelphia, and D.C. With stimulus dollars flowing to Amtrak improvements, I wouldn’t be surprised if companies begin taking a longer look at office space in these types of developments. Moreover, New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit, which applies to office properties within a half mile of train stations in 9 different New Jersey cities, including Trenton, could significantly reduce the amount of rent that Vista Center tenants would pay for the first ten 10 of their lease. We’ll be following this project and others along New Jersey’s stretch of the Northeast Corridor very closely to see whether green and TOD make a compelling case for any large commercial tenants.