Working for Smart Growth:
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Lessons from a Poster Child

September 1st, 2000 by

Merrill Lynch and Hopewell Township

  • The first phase of a new Merrill Lynch office complex is scheduled to open in October in rural Hopewell Township. The 1-million square feet of new buildings is equivalent in size to 10 Home Depot stores.
  • The newly opened campus will draw 3,500 employees a day, or nearly a quarter of the township’s entire population (1998 est.). Nearly all these employees will come to work by car.
  • The state is spending more than $15 million for road improvements around the campus. Had Merrill Lynch located in Trenton, the same monies would have covered nearly half the cost of rebuilding the Trenton train station, estimated at $36 million. Total state support and incentives given to Merrill Lynch for locating in Hopewell exceed $294 million – just $6 million short of the total required for the entire renovation and expansion of Trenton public schools.

Since it entered the public eye, and public outrage, in the late 1990s, the Merrill Lynch campus in Hopewell Township has become a national poster child for misplaced suburban development – a special embarrassment to a state normally given credit for trying to preserve its dwindling open space.

Now a case study recently completed by New Jersey Future and funded by a special grant from the Victoria Foundation identifies specific public policy changes that could make New Jersey’s land-use system work to the better advantage of citizens, communities, business and government. Such changes include: improving each municipality’s capacity to plan for and accommodate growth; offering economic incentives for local consistency with the State Development and Redevelopment Plan; requiring zoning and planning that embrace “how” and not merely “where” growth should occur; and sharing of taxes among municipalities to encourage greater regional distribution of the benefits – and costs – of development.

New Jersey Future’s Hopewell/Merrill Lynch case study will be featured as the cover story of the September issue of New Jersey Reporter, available at newsstands or by subscription, 609-924-9750. It is available in its entirety here on New Jersey Future’s web site.

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Facts Contact:
Teri Jover, NJF Policy Analyst
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