A fiber optic company called Princetel will redevelop the Historic Roebling Block in Trenton into a manufacturing facility. Mayor Reed Gusciora made the announcement with city councilmen and architectural historians Monday afternoon.
Roebling Block 2 has been standing for nearly 100 years, but has been vacant since 1970. John Augustus Roebling designed the grounds in the mid-19th century to manufacture steel cables for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Under the proposal, Princetel will purchase the building for $85,000 and then invest $4 million in renovations. Princetel CEO Barry Zhang spoke about using the Roebling buildings for their original intended purpose.
“All of these buildings are fantastic structures, they can be used for any other purposes,” Zhang said. “But manufacturing is very dear to the soul of the city. It will also have a large ripple effect for the economy.”
Mayor Gusciora praised Zhang and talked about the positive impact the company will have on the city. He also led a tour of the grounds for the media.
“This is really the start of something great for the city of Trenton,” Gusciora told those in attendance. “And I’m really excited to not only bring you in here, but to have you see for yourselves the transformation of these buildings.”
Princetel currently has a plant in Hamilton, NJ with 200 employees. Zhang hopes to grow the new site to house 400 employees within the next ten years so locals can walk to work each morning.
“Roebling made wire thinner than a human hair and they were the biggest engine of ‘Trenton Makes, the World Takes,'” Roebling historian and author Clifford Zink said. “The mayor understands what it is to have a piece of real estate in the city of Trenton of this size.”
A part of the renovations will also include a “green space,” in the center for local concerts and events. The new taxable facility will come complete with solar panels and sculptures around the site.
WBCB’s Matt Howe contributed to this report.