With Princeton Township Committee introducing zoning for post-hospital development on Witherspoon Street Monday night, a clearer picture of what could exist on the University Medical Center at Princeton site could arrive by year's end, or early next year, as Princeton Borough Council was expected to cast a final vote last night on building guidelines on its portion of the site.
Township Committee unanimously introduced an ordinance that would effectively rezone the three-and-a-half-acre Township portion of the current UMCP site, which is chiefly occupied by the hospital's current 743-space parking garage and its Medical Arts Building at the corner of Henry Avenue and Witherspoon.
The garage, located in the Township's current H-2 zone, would be transformed to a retail/office zone under the proposed codes, and would establish an overlay zone spanning the footprint of the garage, ensuring the future existence of the structure, which would remain to accommodate up to 280 residential units and retail operations that would appear on the southern, Borough portion of the site.
The Borough's Tuesday vote occurred after Town Topics went to press.
However, while the Borough's zoning is more complex, the Township's anticipated swift approval facilitates the entire process. The Borough is seeking to create two new development zones on the site, with one zone comprising a hospital-owned two-acre surface parking lot along Franklin Avenue. The current 5.6-acre Borough HMC zone, which allows only hospital use, would become, under the proposal, the MRRO, or Mixed Residential Retail Office, zone. A second new zone, the R4A, would dictate development on the Franklin Avenue surface lot. The third ordinance set for introduction effectively sets guidelines for building design within the MRRO.
As future approval of any redevelopment plan in the Borough will largely hinge upon the parking provided in the Township portion of the site, Planning Director Lee Solow, who has largely choreographed the simultaneous municipal approval process, said both areas must complment each other.
Under the Township's introduced zoning, a future developer could realign the current garage parking spaces to accommodate between 740 and 780 automobiles. "That garage is a very important part of both the Township and Borough pieces supporting the development that's going to occur there," Mr. Solow said Monday.
Some minor details that had delayed the Township from introducing the zoning codes at its October 9 hearing included an unclear definition of open space required, as outlined in the Princeton Community Master Plan. In a memorandum from Township Attorney Edwin Schmierer to members of Township Committee, the open space requirement now indicates that 20 percent of the Township's portion must consist of a "landscape area of planted materials, hardscape (patios, etc.), or a combination thereof."
A public hearing for the proposed Township zoning is set to take place December 4.
In related news, Princeton HealthCare System, the hospital's parent, has been recognized by the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance for meeting the organization's smart growth criteria related to the hospital's concept for future development. Specifically, Mark Brookman, president of the Alliance, said jury members were "pleased" with tentative plans to reuse existing buildings for future development, a practice known as adaptive reuse.
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