Project Developers Target Late Summer To Begin "Phase II"
The Princeton Regional Planning Board has approved plans to build a five-story, 72,467-square-foot structure on the current site of the surface lot along Spring and Tulane streets.
After construction plans are finalized, work crews should be "in the ground" before summer's end, according to the developer, Nassau HKT Urban Renewal Associates.
as "Phase II" of Princeton Borough's downtown development
project, the new structure will feature 18 one-bedroom and
35 two-bedroom units with a grocery store on the first floor,
according to plans provided by the
Otherwise known as "Building C," the L-shaped structure will also include 10 affordable housing units, a courtyard, and two public walkways. One pedestrian-only walkway will connect Spring Street with a 13-foot-wide, two-way delivery corridor running between Building C and the Princeton Record Exchange.
The vote in favor for the project was a unanimous 7-0, with Borough representatives Marvin Reed and Yina Moore recusing themselves for having taken part in the planning stages of the project that was approved by Borough Council in May of 2002. Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill and Council member Wendy Benchley were absent from the hearing.
The Planning Board hearing included public feedback from area residents and merchants in a session that extended well after midnight.
Princeton Record Exchange owner Barry Weisfeld said that the 13-foot driveway alongside his store would not be wide enough for some vehicles to pass each other. In earlier plans, that roadway had been designed to be 11 feet wide, but was widened to accommodate merchant and Borough concerns.
Mr. Weisfeld also said he felt a "logjam" could be created with both grocery store and Triumph Brewery delivery trucks coming down Tulane. Triumph's supplies are unloaded in Lincoln Court, the right-of-way across from the Building C delivery roadway.
Vicky Bergman, vice-chair of the Planning Board, said that as the downtown grows, so will delivery truck loading problems.
"[Loading] has always been a problem, it's going to continue to be a problem," she said.
Henry Landau, owner of Landau's clothing store on Nassau Street said that the loss of 270 parking spaces between the Tulane Street lot and the former Park and Shop lot is too much for the garage to handle.
"We're going to gridlock the town," Mr. Landau said.
However, Borough Engineer Carl Peters contended that the garage was designed to mitigate the loss of parking spaces, including those lost on Spring Street if it were to become a two-way thoroughfare.
Jim Firestone, a Vandeventer Avenue resident and president of Concerned Citizens of Princeton, argued that removing the surface lot would take away the perceived convenience of being able to drive into town for a quick errand.
"We're concerned about the accessibility that residents have to the downtown," Mr. Firestone said. "You have no choice left but to go into that garage if you want to buy a cup of coffee or anything else."
Concerned Citizens, a group of residents and merchants opposed to the downtown development plans, attempted to halt the project by filing suit against the Borough to reverse the designation of the site as an area in need of redevelopment. In April of last year, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg controverted all of the community organization's claims in a 72-page-decision. Concerned Citizens is currently appealing that decision.
Not all merchants are opposed to the structure, however. Charles Kuhn, the proprietor of Kopp's Cycles on Spring Street, said he welcomed the change to the downtown. He said that bringing more foot traffic to that part of the Borough's Central Business District (CBD), would be good for those area businesses, and to the Borough in general.
Mr. Kuhn said he thinks the garage will be able to handle the loss of the Tulane Street lot, adding that he can already see the efficacy of the new garage.
"There's plenty of parking, and I don't think the parking lot has been full since it opened," he said. "It's a no-brainer to realize that [the garage] has been an outstanding success so far."
Mr. Kuhn is reserving a "wait and see" mentality in regards to Building C, concerned that there may be a problem with grocery store shoppers bringing their carts into the garage to load their cars. Nassau HKT principal Robert Powell, however, said that the grocery store will serve more as a convenience store, and not a location where customers will do substantial shopping.
Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand and Deputy Mayor Bill Enslin, both Planning Board members, cast their votes in favor for the project with the understanding that the Borough live up to its agreement that 85 parking spaces will be reserved for library patrons. However, those spaces have yet to be specifically designated within the garage.
"I just want to be sure that as these developments are carried out, these parking spaces will be made available," Mayor Marchand said.
The mayor added that with the new residential units, 77 in total between Phases I and II, increased usage of the library, and the possible expansion of the size and services of the Arts Council of Princeton, parking may be an issue in the long term.
"I hope this garage is able to accommodate that kind of activity," she said. "At this point, I will trust the officials who have assured us that there will be parking. Commitment to the library users must be a priority."