April 10, 2024

Proposed Design of 344 Nassau Should Be Modified to Comply with HPC Ordinance

To the Editor:

On Monday, April 15 at 4 p.m., the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will meet to discuss the application for 344 Nassau Street, which is a proposed massive, four-story, modern apartment building on top and behind the historic home on the corner of Harrison Street and Nassau Street.

Residents and tourists alike come to Princeton to walk its pedestrian-friendly streets and observe the historical charm of its shops and homes. At times, the requirements and regulations of living in an historic neighborhood can be challenging — the permitting process and applications required for what feels like simple updates can feel overwhelming — however, the goal of preserving Princeton’s historic community is a worthy one. That is why it was surprising to me to learn that a developer was being allowed to build 15 residential units in a historical neighborhood without taking into account the standards set forth in the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

The opposition to this project has, at times, been unfairly characterized as an opposition to affordable housing, which is not the case. Rather, it is frustration that an outside developer is being allowed to change our community without having to comply with the same standards that other homeowners must abide by. It’s also concern that an already busy intersection at Harrison Street and Nassau Street will be overwhelmed with the addition of 15 new rental units, some as large as three bedrooms.

To address the affordable housing question — the proposed application currently provides for three affordable units and 12 market rate units. A modification to the proposed design of the 344 Nassau Street project, requiring it to comply with the standards set forth in the Historic Preservation Ordinance, would still allow for the same number of affordable units currently contemplated by the existing plan without comprising this notable historic neighborhood.

I encourage you to attend the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Monday to learn more about this project before it is too late to preserve this historic neighborhood and this project sets a new precedent for development across Princeton.

Cora Walker
Chestnut Street