Over the last few years, there have been multiple projects throughout New Jersey that have involved adaptively reusing historic bank buildings. In Newark’s South Ward, construction is underway on a development for artists called the Nina Simone House that involves preserving the facade of the abandoned Clinton Trust Company building, while a few years ago, the former National State Bank on Broad Street in the city was converted into a Hotel Indigo location. In Caldwell, the former Citizens National Bank is being turned into a complex called the Grover House with offices, retail space, a conference room, and a community art gallery, while comparable projects have been undertaken in Montclair and Red Bank.
However, in the Garden State’s capital, a bank that has sat abandoned for several years might not meet a similar fate. Located at 724-732 South Broad Street/Route 206 in Trenton’s Chambersburg neighborhood, the former Colonial Trust Company building could instead meet the wrecking ball should a new proposal move forward. The bank, which towers over the corner of Hudson Street, is slated to be demolished in order to construct an apartment building, according to a legal notice issued earlier this month by the Trenton Zoning Board of Adjustment.
A six-story building that would include 35 residential rental units could be constructed on the premises. The apartments would be a mixture of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. If approved, the development would be 65 feet high, 15 feet over the zone’s maximum height, and would include 16 parking spaces, according to the notice.
The existing 5,060-square-foot bank building, which has sat vacant for at least a decade, still features inscriptions reading “Colonial Trust” and “Colonial Trust Company” alongside an image of a Revolutionary War soldier on the facade. A nightclub called Club Envy used to operate inside but shut down in 2002, according to The Times of Trenton. NJ Parcels records list the current owner of the tracts as Bergen County-based Trenton Bank, LLC.
Trenton’s Colonial Trust Company merged with the Trenton Trust Company in 1928, according to the Trenton Historical Society. An advertisement in “The American Architect” from that same year stated that The Frink Co. of New York was the engineer for not only the Colonial Trust Company bank in Trenton but also buildings such as the Greenwich Savings Bank in Manhattan and the Bank of Montreal.
The property is located a stone’s throw away from where the Puerto Rican Civic Association of Trenton is creating “a space for cultural and art expressions” at the site of a vacant lot. The premises, which stretch back to Freudenmacher Alley, are situated within a few blocks of the Roebling Market shopping center, the new Roebling Lofts, Mercer County’s Joyce McDade Administration Building, the River Line light rail, and neighborhood restaurants like Chencha y Chole.
The legal notice lists Trenton Bank Building, LLC as the project applicant, though an LLC with that name is not currently listed in the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Service’s database. As of when the legal notice was issued, the matter was scheduled to go before the Trenton Zoning Board of Adjustment during its meeting this Wednesday, November 21, at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. The developer is seeking variances such as lot size, front yard setback, building height, lot coverage, and parking.
Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Trenton Zoning Board of Adjustment and other commissions are subject to change.