Changes are once again in store for a Trenton building that has been used for multiple purposes over the years.
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation late last month that will allow for the State of New Jersey to move forward with selling the distinct three-story Van Sciver Building, located at 160 South Broad Street near Mill Hill Park and Mercer County Superior Court. The 76,000 square foot “surplus” site, which consists of two adjacent tracts, is being sold for $800,000 to a developer after an online auction was conducted, according to the legislation. A report issued last year by Jones Lang LaSalle for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority mentioned that in 2017, the property was given an assessed value of $2.3598 million.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, and Senator Shirley Turner. It was passed unanimously by the State Assembly and the State Senate in June.
In a statement issued by the City of Trenton after the legislation was signed by Governor Murphy, it was revealed that major development plans are in the works for the premises. A “reconstruction” of the site is planned, bringing 120 residential units, restaurants, retail space, and 168 parking spaces to the property, according to the statement, which mentioned that two dozen of the units would be designated as “affordable.”
The legislation and the statement did not mention the name of the new owner of the property. The internet auction’s listing on GovDeals indicates that there was only one bidder and that the company that submitted the bid did so less than an hour before the auction’s end date.
Previously, the building was used by the New Jersey Division of Revenue along with the state’s Division of Taxation as the Mill Hill Processing Center. The structure, which has been expanded significantly since it was constructed, was once used by 800 seasonal state workers, according to The New York Times, which described the property in 1997 as a “highly secured, turreted fortress.”
Originally, the building was home to the Trenton location of Camden’s J.B. Van Sciver Furniture Company. The store opened in 1932, according to a Trenton Times article from the era that was posted by Tom Glover’s Hamilton Scrapbook. At the time, the Trenton Times referred to the structure as “a building that adorns the city as an architectural gem,” mentioning that the stone facade was built out of Chestnut Hill quarry stone and was inspired by estates from Normandy, France.
This is not the first time that there has been a desire to sell the Van Sciver Building. In 2006, the Department of Treasury requested to sell the property for fair market value to Trenton’s municipal government. However, although then-Deputy Treasurer Robert Smartt testified to the State House Commission that “the city of Trenton is expressing interest in the property for economic development purposes” and that selling the site would be a “win-win” for both the municipal government and the Department of Treasury, the sale did not continue to advance.
Additionally, minutes from a December 2018 meeting of the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation show that Trenton Planning Director Jeff Wilkerson testified at the time that Cure Insurance wanted to move its headquarters to Trenton, possibly to the Van Sciver Building.