Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roebling Building 101 - Alternative Use Proposal

Posterous link

We've heard in recent weeks of HHG's plans to develop block 3 of the Wire Rope District, specifically building 101, into a 135-unit luxury-loft residential apartment building.

For those who are unfamiliar with Trenton and the Wire Rope District, here are some aerial photographs of the site.

The first image shows the outline of the overall Wire Rope District, with the Trenton Transit Center on the upper right, which is North, and the Wire Rope District to the left, which is South.

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]The next two aerial photographs highlight major transportation corridors in shades of green (NE Corridor and RiverLine), as well as standard road transportation routes in shades of red (Route 1, Route 129, Route 29, Clinton)

[[posterous-content:pid___1]][[posterous-content:pid___2]]Next, we take a closer look at building 101.


Building Information:
Clark Street Rope Shop Building 101
21-71 Clark St.Block 15901, Lot 1
Length: 300ft
Width: 90ftHeight: 4 Stories


[[posterous-content:pid___6]]An Alternative Proposal

Our forward-thinking proposal is to reconsider the development of the 4 story Clark Street Rope Shop, which is part of Project 23 - “Roebling Block 3” in grid F07 of the City of Trenton Development Projects Map. Rather than converting the warehouse into residential units with amazing views overlooking other abandoned buildings, extensive parking lots, a railroad, a highway, and an arena, this 4-story, windows on all sides buildings could be converted into a vertical farm, this first of its scale in the country - an eco-tourism magnet and green-jobs creator for local Trentonians.

The vertical farm/indoor agriculture approach being developed all over the country, with a successful warehouse conversion called SweetWater Organics operating in Milwaukee - producing fresh mircrogreens and kale, as well as a number of fish species. “Sweet Water Organics is an urban farm located in the Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee that has re-purposed unused industrial building space; growing fresh, safe produce and fish for local Milwaukee residents, restaurants and groceries." The following pictures show the SweetWater Organics warehouse conversion and growing operations underway.



The total cost for indoor farming conversion would probably lie within $5-10 million, as opposed to the $25million expected to create the residential units, which Trenton already has plenty of. Trenton already has plenty of housing stock which is available for rent, as well as a plethora of residential housing developments (Miller Homes, thousands of vacant residential sites being auctioned off by the City) that could be rehabilitated before this building is considered for residential development.

Plus, there would be local buyers for the produce - Roebling Market, local restaurants, and potentially another business who may be moving in to another nearby converted warehouse. The below image shows just how close these locations are - drastically reducing shipping costs and transportation losses of the produce.[[posterous-content:pid___9]]

According to a 2007 analysis by the City of Trenton, 30% of the total vacant properties are owned by the City, and the City owns over 2700 vacant properties, meaning there are over 4500 total vacant properties in the City of Trenton. There are many other housing options available in the downtown area, including high-rises and other housing projects that were abandoned in 2008 that could be completed before this warehouse is converted into even more unused housing stock.
The market for housing, especially luxury condominiums like the ones currently being proposed for this building, are probably the last thing Trenton needs or wants. These luxury condominiums will probably not be fully occupied, if ever. The views from the building are of the RiverLine railway, major highway Rt 129, a Sports Arena, parking lots, low-income neighborhoods, and other dilapidated abandoned warehouses.

Basic cost analysis:(very rough estimate - need resources and info regarding estimation)

  • Roof = $2,150,000
    • Demo - 30,000sf @ $50/sf = $1,500,000
    • Disposal - 30,000sf x 1ft = 30,000 cubic foot volume = @1200 cubic yards
      • $1000 per 30 yard dumpster = $40,000
      • round up to $50,000
    • Build - 30,000sf @ $20/sf = $600,000
  • Finalize cleanup/remediation - $300,000
    • Powerwash interior from top-down after roof removal
  • Energy - $1,000,000
    • Solar-thermal heating systems
    • Solar reflectors on exterior of building to reflect additional sunlight inside 1st, 2nd, 3rd floors
      • mount mirrors just under bottom of windowsills to reflect light inside
      • angled to allow most light into building without tracking
    • Heat-generation plant on bottom floor (aerobic digestion of compostables?)
      • heat flows up to
    • Anaerobic digestion on bottom floor with methane collection
  • Electricity - $1,000,000
    • Solar panels installed on south-facing side of building
    • vertical axis wind-turbines on corners of building
  • Water System - $100,000
    • Collection from rooftop - 1” rainfall over 30k sf = 2,500cf = 18,700 gallons
      • plenty of water, but a closed recirculating system would require almost no additional water
    • Storage tanks internal on 4th or 3rd floor (high for gravity/pressure system)
    • Recirculation system requires pumps - solar powered
  • Windows - ($500,000)
    • @230 window sections, with @90 panes per section, @ 2sf per pane
    • at 10$ per square foot of glass
    • about $500,000
  • Growing Systems - $300,000
    • vertical growing systems inside constructed from organic materials such as lumber and bamboo
    • pipes needed for water delivery system

Other planned vertical farming operations. (3)

  • Big Box Farms - Maine (plans for Brooklyn, Chicago, Philladelphia)
    • “Jordan Motzkin, 22, of New York, has won grants from National Science Foundation and the College of the Atlantic for his startup, __Big Box Farms__, which finished testing a prototype in Maine and plans to open an indoor farm in an old Brooklyn warehouse early next year. He expects the farm to grow millions of pounds of organic lettuce and basil. Motzkin then hopes to replicate it, first with farms in Chicago and Philadelphia, then elsewhere in the nation.”
  • Gotham Green - Brooklyn, NY
    • “Another new company, __Gotham Greens__, will use hydroponics to grow everything from bok choy to basil in an enclosed rooftop greenhouse in the middle of Brooklyn. The company raised $2 million from investors and should finish the 15,000-square-foot greenhouse this spring, producing 40 tons of crops a year, most of which will be sold to a local Whole Foods store.”
  • CityScape Farms - SanFransisco, CA
    • “In San Francisco, __Cityscape Farms__ plans to grow lettuce and herbs and raise fish in water-based aquaponics systems in greenhouses set up on urban rooftops and vacant lots. Cityscape CEO Mike Yohay predicts that by eliminating transportation costs and fertilizer, a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse could produce $500,000 in profit and 20 to 30 tons of food a year for local supermarkets and corporate cafeterias.”

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