TRENTON - In what has become a rare occurrence, Gov. Christie made an announcement Tuesday at the Statehouse, where he reiterated that he isn't planning to leave his job as governor of New Jersey.
But he will leave the Statehouse - for the building to undergo a four-year renovation. Work on the $300 million project, revealed by Christie on Tuesday, "will begin immediately," the governor said as he described the "shameful" condition of the building, from a lack of adequate sprinklers and fire safety measures to windows that are "literally falling out."
"I've been urging this to be done for years. But I am not going to leave here without it being done," Christie said.
The executive branch will move out by July and be housed elsewhere in Trenton "for the better part of the next four years," he said.
The renovated Statehouse "will be for the next governor to enjoy," said Christie, whose term ends in January 2018. "But these are the kinds of things second-term governors can and should do."
Christie, whose prospects in President-elect Donald Trump's administration have been an ongoing topic of speculation, acknowledged that building repairs might not have been foremost on the minds of the throng of reporters and photographers gathered for what his office had billed as a "press announcement."
"If I were announcing I was leaving to go the Trump administration, would I really do it in the rotunda of the Statehouse, by myself, without the person who would actually be giving me the job?" said Christie, who was recently replaced as chairman of Trump's transition team.
"I am telling you that I am completing my term," he said.
Christie said he was spurred to action on the renovations by seeing the Maryland statehouse while visiting Gov. Larry Hogan in Annapolis. Returning to Trenton, Christie said, he thought, "What would I think if Gov. Hogan came here?"
The governor described the overhaul - which will be done in partnership with the state Economic Development Authority - as "part of my ongoing commitment over the next 14 months to the city of Trenton."
The state "has done much" for Newark and Camden, Christie said. "Trenton is next." The state plans to demolish buildings in Trenton, in part because the number of state employees has shrunk during Christie's tenure, he said.
In addition to addressing code violations and safety hazards in the Statehouse - Christie said his counsel's office was in danger of collapsing into the ground in the next two years, crushing computer servers underneath - the renovation project will incorporate a museum and exhibits, the governor said.
The Statehouse, which dates to 1792 and is the second oldest in continuous operation in the United States, was "passed down to us literally from our founding fathers," Christie said.
As he spoke of the rest of his time in office - pledging to work "from now until Jan. 18, 2018" - Christie said he couldn't predict everything in his future.
"If something extraordinary happens in the world where my service is needed, I will consider any requests that are made," he said.
Christie did not take any questions from reporters. The governor has not held a news conference in New Jersey since before the trial of two of his former aides in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal. The six-week trial began in September.
After Christie left, another man got up in front of reporters. "If you're concerned about the appearance of impropriety, you should do more than paint the building," said Bill Brennan, an activist who filed a citizen's complaint in court over Christie's alleged knowledge of the bridge scandal and wants a special prosecutor appointed in the case.