December 15, 2021

Steering Committee Recommends Formation of Special Improvement District for Town

To the Editor:

Over the past year, we have had the pleasure of working with Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros on the Steering Committee to consider the formation of a Special Improvement District (SID). Without her leadership, the idea of creating a SID would never have happened.

We have spent many, many hours on Zoom calls almost every week to discuss the future of commerce in Princeton. This diverse group of business leaders, property owners, nonprofit and institutional leaders have been working together to answer the question of how we could best improve the vitality of the town.

COVID-19 has been devastating to many businesses in Princeton. It was a catalyst to advance the demise of retailers that were already hurt by e-commerce. Many local shopkeepers watched helplessly as their economic viability evaporated almost overnight. There are now more vacant stores in Princeton than there has been in decades.

Almost all of the Committee members have seen firsthand how much time and money is wasted in the current approval process. Instead of spending money for legal fees that produce no benefit to the community or the business owner, we believe that it is possible to forge improvements in the process. We would all enjoy a faster, better solution that ensures the town has the control it needs while allowing a new business to open sooner. This will help us fill the many retail vacancies more quickly and will help the town rebound from a deep retail downturn. Once full, these spaces will serve the community with a greater offering of shops and restaurants.

And, it’s not just the retailers. We own and manage several properties that have apartments. It’s clear to us that our residential tenants are concerned about the state of the town. By restoring the town’s vitality, our residents are going to benefit from the improved amenities.

After a year, the Committee voted to share its findings with the town Council. We have recommended the formation of a SID. We anticipate that the SID budget will be an investment which will make the town look better, function more efficiently, and create an environment where people will really enjoy the time they spend in Princeton and businesses will thrive. 

We look forward to working with Michelle and the entire Princeton Council as we craft holistic plans that take into account all of the stakeholders who are impacted. We, the business owners, know that the town residents are often our biggest customers and we all want any changes to benefit those that help us make our town more vibrant. We want to bring nationally-recognized talent to Princeton so that the best minds in the country — indeed the world — help us find the best path forward to help Princeton be the Best Little Town in America!

Helena May
Property Owner and Resident
Witherspoon Street

Kathy Klockinbrink
Business Owner and Resident
Nassau Street

Jack Morrison
Business Owner, Witherspoon Street

Aubrey Haines
Property Owner, Witherspoon Street