Green Adaptive Reuse Development in N.J.’s Capital Nears Sell Out

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorTrenton, N.J.—HHG Development Associates, a Trenton, N.J.-based development firm specializing in adaptive reuse of historic structures, has sold 80 percent of the residences at The Cracker Factory, an approximately $5.5 million, 18-unit condominium conversion project.Formerly the Exton Cracker Bakery, which invented oyster crackers in the 1850s, The Cracker Factory includes two units set aside for low-income residents. It is part of the Trenton Ferry historic district, an urban, mixed-use neighborhood. In addition to this project, HHG Development Associates is also restoring three historic buildings on the corner of Centre and Ferry Streets, adding eight loft/condo units to the block—only one of which remains.”What you’re seeing is a general return to urban development. New Jersey, for years, has had a pattern of redevelopment to subdivide farmlands. Between environmental issues and open space requirements—and the sheer fact that most of the farmland has been developed—there’s not much opportunity to do that kind of development. And then you look at the carbon footprint, and it turns out urban areas are a whole lot more efficient,” Michael Goldstein, partner at HHG Development Associates, tells MHN. “You can’t do suburban development in New Jersey anymore, and in the current times, people realize urban development just makes more sense.” The remaining four units at The Cracker Factory range in price from $209,000 to $261,250. Though the development offers one- and two-bedroom units, all the remaining residences are two-bedroom duplex lofts, three of which feature private gardens. Goldstein attributes the high percentage of sales, despite dire economic conditions, to the affordability of The Cracker Factory, as well as the size of the residences. “You have people who were working in Manhattan, and because of the real estate crisis were forced to live in outer boroughs. They found that if they were looking at outer boroughs, they were looking at an hour-plus commute, and what they could afford wasn’t attractive,” he says. At The Cracker Factory, residents “are getting much more space in a much more beautiful, finished environment for a lot less money.”Residences, which range in size from 750 to 1,200 sq. ft., feature custom cabinetry, hardwood floors, a variety of stone and tile options for the kitchen and bath, in-unit washer and dryers, and garage parking. Green features include a 15 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio) electric heat pump for efficient heating and cooling, low-E windows and Watersense-certified toilets. Residents also have the option of purchasing a roof-mounted, solar photovoltaic system.A N.J. Transit bus stop is located at the front door of The Cracker Factory, which is also in close proximity to the Trenton train station—which recently underwent a $75 million transformation—offering convenient access to New York City and Philadelphia. “Half of our buyers are commuters to New York,” notes Goldstein. In addition to The Cracker Factory, HHG Development Associates is restoring more than 34 residences on the first two-and-a-half blocks of Centre Street, the gateway to the Trenton Ferry Historic District.