By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — The opening of a new store in town is both a gain and a loss, representing the addition of a commercial entity and the absence of unused property.
On March 29, Trenton Tractor Supply, 3000 Van Horn Road, officially opened for business and rekindled activity in the former Foodtown grocery store and Metro South Church building in Trafford Square.
City Administrator Jim Wagner said the business — which had only begun construction in January — marks a significant sign of progress.
“It was a substantially under-utilized and under-appreciated property,” Wagner said of the vacant Trafford Square property. “That strip mall probably makes the issue for the south end of why people live there.” The business joins a neighborhood that includes the Secretary of State office, several restaurants and two hardware stores.
The development also sparks renewed interest in other vacant Trafford Square spaces, and brought a new sense of hope that more of the same will follow.
“It gives us a little more confidence that, maybe, the economy is starting to turn around,” Wagner said.
Tractor Supply is a national specialty business, which Wagner said marks a departure from the few businesses that the city had attracted — fast-food franchises or pharmacies.
“It’s a national, big-box store, which we haven’t had much luck with,” Wagner said. “This gives us some optimism that we can do it if we want to.”
City officials said Trenton Tractor Supply was the first — and hopefully far from last — business to open its doors this year. Coffee shop Elizabeth Perk is expected to open within three months in the long-dormant A&W building at 2975 W. Jefferson at the entrance to Elizabeth Park. Wagner said he spoke with owner Mark Hayes last week and confirmed a 2014 opening for the business.
Another vacant Jefferson Avenue property will soon be home to Ramsey’s restaurant.
Maybe it’s a sign of spring after the longest winter in recent memory, but Wagner said he believes it’s just the beginning.
“The end of the heavy snow has made people feel a little more positive to do things,” Wagner said. “Hopefully we’ll get some more done in the next few months.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])