The Circle F project in Trenton, N.J., was developed on a manufacturing site that dated to 1886. Situated in the city’s East Ward neighborhood, the contaminated property had been idle since 1990.
In 1992, the city – working with a local neighborhood association – subdivided the property and targeted the older front half for senior citizen housing. The back half remained industrial, leased by local manufacturer Merlin Industries, which needed more space for its canvas pool cover operation.
Lutheran Social Ministries, a local nonprofit developer, was selected by Trenton officials to undertake the housing project. The group fronted the $500,000 for site cleanup and preparation, and it applied for and received an allocation of $8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits.
Those credits attracted Nat West Bank to the project, and, as a limited partner, the bank provided $5 million in construction loans and other costs. The tax credits will translate into a 12 percent return on investment for Nat West; the redevelopment brought 75 new units of housing to an old central city neighborhood.