February 17, 2021

Bank Street Homeowners Support Hotel, But Objections Still Stand

To the Editor:

All of the homeowners on Bank Street that shared comments and objections with the Zoning Board and the hotel group have something in common. We all agree that the proposed Graduate Hotel will positively impact the Central Business District. Our intent was never to stop the project. 

However, we did object to four of the seven variances sought by GPNJ OWNER LLC. Those variances dealt with the structure’s height, which will increase from 32 to 65 feet, the 10-foot setback required in a residential (and historic) zone, excessive floor area ratio, and not meeting parking space requirements. Each separate variance was related to the other. If one variance were denied or changed, it would have brought the other two or three variances closer to compliance with town ordinances. And the Bank Street neighbors would have supported the changes. 

Zoning ignored Bank Street testimony, including a proposal to step down the north portion of the building. They ignored the SPRAB and the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission recommendations for Bank Street impacts, as well as traffic, sun, parking, and noise studies. Insignificant was the message from GPNJ, and the board accepted. 

During the executive session, some board members expressed concern for the neighbors, and for a brief moment, it seemed that they might press the developer for changes. But when the vote came, the Zoning Board of Adjustments unanimously chose not to make adjustments.

As I said before, we all support a hotel in the CBD, and our objections, as they were, still stand.

Bill Gray
Bank Street