The Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act (APRA) is a State statute (C.55:19-78) that allows municipalities to place properties on an “abandoned properties list” if they meet certain criteria. Placing a property on an abandoned property list triggers significant municipal powers with respect to that property. Specifically the City can use “spot blight” eminent domain and can use special tax sales that allow it to set performance requirements on those who purchase the property.
In the summer of 2014, the Trenton Neighborhood Restoration Campaign, under the leadership of Isles, worked with the City of Trenton, Rutgers University, and community groups to identify all vacant properties throughout the entire city. A comprehensive database of these properties was created as part of the effort. Through the proposed Property Conditions Study the City should identify and publish a list of properties that pose a serious threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents and which are beyond the point of repair. It should then take advantage of its authority under the APRA and the City’s redevelopment powers to acquire and demolish those properties.
Since the City has limited funds to support acquisition and demolition, it must be strategic in its implementation of this program. The City should consider initial implementation in the Priority Investment Neighborhoods (see Develop Housing Toolkit & Implement Prioritized Investment Framework Initiative) or in areas where the problem is most acute (see Stabilize Neighborhoods with the Highest Concentration of Vacancy and Abandonment Initiative).