June 6, 2018

West Windsor Moves Forward With Transit Village Plan

By Anne Levin

It has been nearly a decade since West Windsor Township created a redevelopment plan for land adjacent to the Princeton Junction train station. Last month, the township reached a settlement agreement with AvalonBay Properties, the developer of the rental complex on the former site of Princeton Hospital, for a 25-acre site next to the station between Washington Road, Station Drive, and the Dinky train tracks.

The site is to include 800 apartments and 37,000 square feet of retail space. The agreement increases the percentage of affordable housing dwellings in the development from the previously proposed 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent.

“AvalonBay is in contract to purchase the property and they have been engaged in a productive dialogue with the mayor since January to find a solution that meets their objectives and those of West Windsor,” Township Mayor Hemant Marathe announced in a release.

The developer has agreed to contribute to the township’s Off-Tract Road Assessment Program for infrastructure improvements in the redevelopment area, calling for better traffic control near the train station and safer conditions on the adjacent section of Washington Road.

“The transit village project will not only help us satisfy our affordable housing obligation, it will finally give us the central focal point that the community has been seeking,” Marathe said. “It will finally give West Windsor the downtown that residents have desired for a long time.”

The release adds, “The 37,000 square feet of retail space included in the project will help increase the community’s commercial ratables and shopping options. The promenade and open pavilion will provide places for residents to gather. Both parties expect the development to be a vibrant downtown area that all residents can enjoy.”

Originally, a company called InterCap Holdings was planning to develop the site.

In 2009, the Township Council approved The Princeton Junction Redevelopment Plan, which recommended a 350-acre site for housing, retail, and public gatherings. Only 500 housing units were proposed in that plan, which is less than that recommended by New Jersey’s model for transit villages. InterCap had proposed building nearly 1,500 dwellings, and filed a lawsuit challenging the Township’s numbers. A settlement was reached, but InterCap pulled out of the deal in 2011 because of financial issues.

New Jersey included West Windsor on its list of designated transit villages in 2012. The redevelopment zone is now 320 acres.

The Township Council is expected to vote on the issue this month. Their next meeting is Monday, June 11.

According to a report issued last month on the Township’s master plan, the redevelopment plan has yet to be incorporated into West Windsor’s land use plan. The report recommends that the township should “examine the effectiveness of the regulations of the redevelopment districts, and how effective these district regulations have been in encouraging the redevelopment of the Princeton Junction area.”