Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 3
 
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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Planning Board Set to Review Nassau Inn Expansion Vision

Matthew Hersh

After a month-long delay, representatives of the Nassau Inn are expected to present an expansion concept plan to the Regional Planning Board of Princeton this Thursday, taking on a project that was first floated nearly 10 years ago.

The concept, which is not a formal application, was scheduled for planning board review last month, but an attorney conflict delayed that hearing, putting off a sneak preview of the hotel’s first major expansion in over 20 years. The plan is actually a revision of an approved 1998 plan that never came to fruition.

Preliminary plans outline the construction of a six-story addition along Hulfish Street, currently occupied by a plaza 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 move is necessary, according to the hotel’s architectural consultant, Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., in “keeping pace within the hospitality industry, providing more functional accommodations for guests, and obtaining much needed program space.”

The firm maintained that any expansion would remain sensitive to surrounding neighborhoods and would maintain the hotel’s “inn status.”

A Nassau Inn expansion is a long time coming for the hotel, which has felt pressure from an increasing stock of hotels and conference centers along the Route 1 corridor. The Spiezle group pointed to this trend, reporting that new assembly space, outdoor dining areas, and more accommodating guest rooms make for “an absolute priority for the Inn in order to continue providing for the Princeton area’s hotel, dining, meeting, and social needs.”

The report also identifies “outdated” mechanical, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems that “can not properly be addressed without doing so as part of an all-inclusive project encompassing the entire property.”

That all-inclusive project would include renovating 84 guest rooms along the Palmer Square East side of the hotel. The remodeling would reduce the number of rooms in this wing by 28, leaving a total of 56 rooms.

Along the Palmer Square West side, early plans show that the Inn would 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 new landscaped area with outdoor dining, listed in preliminary plans as consisting of eight tables.

Neither Lori Rabon, the Nassau Inn’s general manager, or Thomas Letizia, attorney for the Nassau Inn, could be reached for comment.

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The Regional Planning Board of Princeton is slated to hear the Nassau Inn concept plan at Township Hall this Thursday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m.

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