Groundbreaking Begins on East Trenton Community Center

Groundbreaking Begins on East Trenton Community Center

On Thursday, September 14th, leaders, stakeholders, and residents of the Trenton Community gathered at 701 North Clinton Avenue to celebrate the groundbreaking of the all-new East Trenton Community Center. After sitting shuttered for many years, community stakeholders are now here to breathe new life into the former East Trenton Library, creating a resource that will serve members of the community for years to come.

The City of Trenton, New Jersey Historic Trust, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, and NJCC provided funding for this important project. Notably, Trenton-based architect, Clarke Caton Hintz, and contractors, Merrell & Garaguso, will complete the renovations. In the restoration efforts, special consideration has been taken to preserve the property’s rich architectural history.

As the space takes shape, the East Trenton Community Center will serve as a one-stop shop for modernized library services as well as education, business, and job enhancement activities, and other community programming. At the core of NJCC’s revitalization efforts in East Trenton are community engagement, organization, and events that foster relationships among residents to achieve their goals and continue the implementation of the resident-driven plan.

“The East Trenton Library Community Center groundbreaking was the start of a fresh chapter brimming with possibilities for locals,” says Bernel Hall, President and CEO of NJCC. “We look forward to transforming this historic facility into a thriving hub of opportunity, where education, employment training and entrepreneurial development will come together to shape a stronger, more vibrant neighborhood for all.”

Bernel Hall, President and CEO of NJCC (left), Caitlin Fair, Program Director at East Trenton Collaborative (right)

Over the course of the afternoon, guests had the opportunity to hear from a dynamic panel of community leaders who helped make this project possible. Speakers included Caitlin Fair, Program Director for East Trenton Collaborative, NJCC President and CEO, Bernel Hall, Mayor Reed Gusciora, North Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Williams, former North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, NJ DCA Acting Commissioner Kimberly Holmes, and NJ Historic Board of Trustees Chair, Peter Lindsay. A number of supporters, partners, and allies came together to celebrate this historic day, representing the broad mosaic of supporters that have been instrumental in making this project a reality.

The former East Trenton Library is an iconic building with a wealth of history hidden between its walls. Originally constructed in 1796, the building has fulfilled many roles in its lifetime, including serving as a house, a meetinghouse for organizations like the YMCA, a library, and now, a community center. Since the library shuttered its doors in 2010, community members have been fighting tirelessly to restore this building to its former glory, and after a long-fought battle, their time has finally come.

Former Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson (left) and Councilwoman Jennifer Williams (right)

Reflecting on the project, Bernel Hall noted, “I was thinking about this project and how it became a public library in 1926, and how through all this time and effort and hard work, we got to this point. It hit me that this quote from Albert Einstein said the only thing you need to know: ‘the only thing you need to know of the location our library’, and from here we can go anywhere.”

Caitlin Fair reflected on the journey it took to reach this point, noting “I have never worked on a project that has had so much unanimous support.” Continuing, she stated “The folks that we have had involved in this have worked so collaboratively and so seamlessly together because of the nature of this project and how supported it is, how important it is for the community. Constantly, when we’re over here, we have folks walking by, encouraging the work, being excited about the work, and sharing with us how wonderful it is and how excited they are to have the building return to use in their community.”

Mayor Gusciora reflected, “It’s an honor to be here, it’s an honor to help get these doors open. This is a building that’s been here since 1796, and Trenton has fought to preserve it and bring it back to life.” The Mayor then joked, noting “There’s some ghosts in there, but hopefully they’re going to help the children with their after-school programming in a friendly way.”

This is no doubt a massive accomplishment for both the community itself and the stakeholders who have been working tirelessly for years to get this project off the ground. This work has spanned several administrations, councils, and non-profit organizations, all of whom have been working tirelessly to get to this day. Marge Caldwell-Wilson echoed this sentiment, noting “It hasn’t been an easy journey – even with the past council, it was difficult to get the funding approved – but you did it! This is probably one of the happiest days of my life.” Continuing, she said “I will guarantee you that your representative in the North Ward [Councilwoman Jennifer Williams] will take care of this community and this ward. Her heart is in it, and the community is starting to get to know her, and I am sure that she’s just as excited as I am about this.”

This asset has been desperately needed in this neighborhood for over a decade, but we can take heart knowing it won’t be too much longer As this beloved community beacon once again comes to life, it will no doubt enrich the lives of community members in the process. Exciting things are coming on every corner of the Capital City, and we cannot wait to see what happens next!

New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides an innovative toolkit of financial products, programs, and services to advance equity and opportunity in underserved communities. NJCC supports the preservation and development of affordable housing and sustainable community development ventures that increase jobs, improve education, and strengthen neighborhoods to ensure that communities can thrive. To learn more, visit

The ETC is an initiative of residents, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders working to reinvigorate and revitalize the East Trenton neighborhood. Coordinated by NJCC, ETC pursues complementary strategies including physical revitalization and beautification, homeownership, small business improvement, community building, workforce development, education, recreation, and human services. For more information, visit

CAPC is a real estate subsidiary of NJCC. CAPC acquires vacant properties and nonperforming mortgages in New Jersey, and partners with local community builders to convert spaces into affordable housing and other positive community uses. To learn more, visit

The post Groundbreaking Begins on East Trenton Community Center first appeared on TrentonDaily.

Powered by WPeMatico