Sharing Concern About Proposed Development at Nassau, Harrison Streets
To the Editor:
I would like to share my great concern about the proposed development at 344 Nassau Street at the corner of Nassau and Harrison streets in the Jugtown Historic District. Jugtown is a special and historically rich area. It would be a travesty to see it destroyed.
We have some of the oldest houses in Princeton on these corners. Jugtown is a treasured part of our town and should be respected for future generations in Princeton. The oversized four-story building that is being planned at 344 Nassau Street would tower over the historic homes in the neighborhood at 45 feet high and reach to the sidewalk on Harrison Street.
Anyone who knows Jugtown knows how congested and dangerous the intersection at Harrison and Nassau is. A building of the size proposed would be a real safety concern for pedestrians and traffic, especially the large trucks and buses that already find it difficult to navigate. I am also concerned that more traffic will try to avoid the congestion by funneling into the surrounding residential side streets.
Mr. Bill King, a developer, recently built apartments in an addition on the back of the historic home at 338 Nassau Street on the northwest corner of the intersection. He did it in a way that maintained the streetscape and considered the historic home and the surrounding neighborhood. It is an unobtrusive and sensible design, so we know it can be done!
I do question that Jugtown, which is on the local, state, and national historic registers, has been chosen for a four-story, 45-foot-high dense building on a dangerous corner with inadequate parking, difficult ingress and egress, and no open space. The proposed building towers over every other building in the neighborhood.
We all recognize that affordable housing is needed, and we totally support it. In a historic district, plans should be balanced against historic preservation. Rather than forcing an oversized structure into a too-tight location, developers should consider some of the more spacious options that are also in the AHO-2 overlay but outside the four corners central to Jugtown. If all four corners of Nassau and Harrison were to have 45-foot-tall, four-story blocks with no setbacks, as is allowed with the new AHO overlay ordinance, I just can’t imagine how this will work on so many levels. Jugtown would be unrecognizable. We need a balance.
I feel strongly that we are the custodians of our historical areas, and I need to understand why this ordinance has not taken the historic district into consideration, and why the present ordinance doesn’t mention it.
Has the Historic Preservation Commission the will to do what they are meant to do and support a balance between this development and the need to preserve our history here in Princeton?
I urge people to look at the plans and if they are concerned as I am, then sign the petition at change.org/p/save-jugtown-historic-district.