The following research is looking at small to medium scale post-industrial buildings that are embedded in the neighborhood fabric of Trenton. These sites are ripe with potential – they are prime locations to ultimately assume essential neighborhood functions.
TerraCycle is a new business in North Trenton on New York Avenue. The owner, Tom Szaky, took an abandoned site (previously occupied by the Brauninger News company) and began business in 2001 as a small start-up company manufacturing fertilizer from worm poop. TerraCycle has engaged the surrounding community by providing jobs, encouraging recycling, and hosting graffiti wall events for its neighbors.
Terracycle represents a successful remediation of an abandoned building. What kinds of strategies can be implemented with similar structures to begin re-inhabitation? Another site we are researching is the Horsman Doll Factory, on Grand Street in Chambersburg. Horsman Dolls was once the largest doll manufacturer in the United States, and this factory closed in the 1960’s. The vacant factory is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, and its small scale (approx. 1.5 acres) makes remediation relatively manageable. We have explored inexpensive, initial moves to make on the site as a way to plant a seed for potential change in the neighborhood. One strategy is to simply mark the site, increasing awareness of the building as an empty vessel awaiting a purpose…show that someone is home, and someone cares!
This initial marking could then begin to say more…perhaps indicate the building as a high priority for city redevelopment efforts, or advertise a new business in the area. Rather than thinking of the building wholesale, perhaps occupation can happen incrementally as the building is rehabilitated.
Another site is the iconic Roebling complex, which is 45 acres. Significantly larger than the smaller sites, it has similar issues and can be approached conceptually in a similar way in terms of remediation. The edges of Roebling create a barrier to Chambersburg – all roads lead to, and end at Roebling. Recognizing the physicality of the site as overwhelmingly large, we are proposing to break down its large mass into parts. Simply re-orienting the existing fences to allow people to walk around the Roebling site can begin to change perceptions.