Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 49
 
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
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A Decade Overdue, Nassau Inn Expansion Is Slated for Review

Matthew Hersh

Representatives of the Nassau Inn will appear this Thursday before the Regional Planning Board of Princeton with a concept that would offer significant increases to the hotel’s guest capacity, retail capability, and reception space.

While not considering it as a formal application, planners are expected to provide feedback on this revision to a 1998 plan that received planning approval, but never materialized.

The hotel is looking to build a six-story addition along Hulfish Street, currently occupied by a courtyard area and a loading dock, with two retail stores, a new ballroom space above the street-level retail, and four guest-room floors consisting of 40 new rooms that would tie into the hotel’s existing wings.

The plan’s original approval in 1998 covered zoning variances for building height, number of stories, and parking. However, those variances expired six months following that approval because construction permits were never obtained in line with provisions in the Princeton Borough Land Use Code. According to the Planning Department, the only zone change that would affect the hotel’s proposed development is the municipality’s affordable housing requirement, since that requires a 20-percent affordable housing set-aside when implemented. Planning officials said that the Nassau Inn had been aware of this and that an application containing an affordable housing component would be submitted.

A new plan, if approved, would update the Inn’s proposal related to parking and open space. A report authored by planning director Lee Solow, Borough engineer Chris Budzinski, and Borough zoning officer Derek Bridger, called the proposed Nassau Inn plan “substantially” different from the 1998 approval, and stated that any building would require the approval of an entirely new site plan application.

The Nassau Inn is also looking to renovate and remodel 84 guest rooms in an area of the hotel, commonly known as the Colonial wing, along the Palmer Square East side of the hotel. The remodeling would reduce the number of rooms in that wing by 28, leaving a total of 56 rooms.

Along the Palmer Square West side, the Inn plans to demolish the existing one-story building occupied by Lindt Chocolate and replace it with a three-story, 9,000 square-foot building with ground floor retail, second floor meeting space, and a third floor storage area. A new entrance to the Tap Room Restaurant would be built there, along with a newly landscaped area with outdoor dining, listed in preliminary plans as consisting of eight tables.

Thomas Letizia, attorney for the Nassau Inn, could not be reached for comment, but a program document assembled by the Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., an Inn consultant, said the goal of the additions and renovations is to keep “pace within the hospitality industry, providing more functional accommodations for guest and obtaining much-needed program space.”

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The hearing will take place Thursday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m., at Township Hall.

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