TRENTON (WPVI) --A group of very concerned merchants and small business owners in Trenton is speaking out against Governor Chris Christie's plan to demolish three state office buildings.
They say the plan could also demolish their livelihood.
"Without the buildings down here you got a ghost town. You got another Atlantic City,"
For more than 50 years, Joey Festa has been cutting hair at State Barbershop on Warren Street.
Like many businesses in downtown Trenton, he relies on thousands of state employees who work and lunch in the area each day.
But he worries that a plan by the Economic Development Authority to knock down three state buildings in the area - taxation, health and agriculture - and relocate the workers to new buildings will kill his business.
"This is our lifeline down here. The whole thing is our business is the convenience of it, that the people we cater to, to the people right in the area, it's everything," Festa said.
Tom Fowler, the owner of Checkers Bar and Restaurant, says the idea of knocking down the nearby taxation building and moving 1,000 workers farther away from the business district is a nightmare.
"For people who are on the fringe, they might not walk three blocks for lunch. They might get in their car and go elsewhere," Fowler said.
"And that's the thing, the convenience of being down here. I mean, that's the business that they get, state workers," state worker Diane Spence said.
Concerned about what's happening and hoping to get the state to reconsider, a number of business owners and residents has organized a group called Stakeholders Allied for the Core of Trenton.
Members say the plan won't spur development, it'll cripple the business district.
"You can't just put people on the fringes near their cars, hollowing out downtown, and think that we are going to thrive," real estate agent Anne LaBate said.
The group is mobilizing to raise awareness and fight the proposal.
A public meeting is planned for 6 p.m. January 19th at the Friends Meeting House.