February 5, 2020

Redevelopment Plan For Thanet Property Introduced by Council

By Anne Levin

At a special meeting January 30, Princeton Council voted to introduce a redevelopment plan for two proposed developments on Thanet Road, currently the site of office buildings that are 90 percent vacant.

One of the proposals, by AvalonBay, is for a 221-unit, multi-family complex including six affordable apartments and five affordable apartments for adults with special needs. The other is an 80-unit, age-restricted, 100 percent affordable rental housing development by PIRHL Developers LLC.

The proposals will be considered by the Planning Board at its meeting Thursday, February 6, to see if they are consistent with Princeton’s Master Plan. The plan comes back to Council for a public hearing at its meeting on February 10. The developments make up a significant portion of Princeton’s affordable housing settlement plan, which is due to be considered at a fairness hearing on Friday, February 7.

AvalonBay, which was the developer of the apartment complex on the former site of Princeton Hospital, will make a payment in lieu of taxes on the Thanet property, the proceeds of which would offset the costs of building the senior development.

“Tonight’s vote is specifically on the introduction of the redevelopment plan,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “Even though it is a type of zoning document that does not speak specifically to the financing, we know there are a lot of questions on how this is going to work. We want to make sure we discuss that as part of the introduction tonight. There will be an agreement at the next meeting that will outline the financial arrangement between Princeton and the developer of the multi-family project [AvalonBay]. We want to make sure that everybody is clear on what those mechanisms will be.”

A representative from the consultants Burgis Associates Inc., Princeton’s Planning Director Michael LaPlace, and Princeton Administrator Marc Dashield provided details of the concept plans. A single, four-story building is proposed for the senior housing. The AvalonBay development would include town homes and a multi-family building on the site of the existing office buildings, which would be demolished. All of the concepts are subject to design approval.

“We think this is an exciting concept in terms of redevelopment for this section of Princeton,” said LaPlace. “From the environmental standpoint, it is redevelopment of a site that has already been developed, so there is already impervious coverage.”

The site is currently in a state of some deterioration, and is “nearly obsolete,” LaPlace said. Its proximity to schools, Princeton Shopping Center, and transportation into town add to its suitability for redevelopment.

Dashield gave an overview of the financial aspects of the plan, which will be presented in more detail at the February 10 meeting. The plan is currently posted on the town’s website, princetonnj.gov.