Earlier this year, a report from the Princeton Zoning Officer noted that Sakrid Coffee was operating a coffee shop at 300 Witherspoon St, the old ‘Princeton Packet’ building (Report: “‘TigerLabs’ Relocating To Witherspoon Street“). At the time, it was not obvious that this was true, but a planning proposal that will be heard by the Princeton Zoning Board indicates that Sakrid Coffee are very serious about opening a new outlet at the Witherspoon Street site! The town is currently considering an application to make it happen.
Princeton is well known as a town that appreciates open space, to the extent that 27% of the town is made up of preserved land. Extraordinarily, however, it seems that the town hall for the old Princeton Township was constructed on preserved open space. The old Princeton Township town hall lives on as the “Princeton Municipal Complex” at 400 Witherspoon St. Also known as “Witherspoon Hall”, the building has been the site for all Council meetings since consolidation of the old Princeton Borough and Princeton Township in 2013. The building opened in 2002, and it seems that nobody noticed that it had been built on preserved land.
The town of Princeton has acquired large amounts of open space in recent years, but until very recently, there was no publicly-accessible map of protected lands. Speaking to the Princeton Environmental Commission on Feb 22, municipal open space manager Cindy Taylor unveiled a new map, showing the locations of every tract in the town that is subject to conservation orders.
Princeton Mayor Mark Freda sparked consternation last week, after reports emerged regarding comments he made at a panel sponsored by the Mercer County Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors. As reported by Barbara Peston for ‘The Montgomery News’ (Link: “Three Mayors Say NJ Affordable Housing Mandate Needs Oversight“), Mayor Freda was invited to get together with the mayors of Mongtomery Twp and West Windsor at the private Cherry Valley Country Club. The Mayor was reportedly sharply critical of the process that has led to construction of hundreds of new affordable homes in Princeton, saying “We have a lot of housing being built right now, and it’s been tough to balance what some judge in some court decides that your town should build…”
TigerLabs, the co-working venue in downtown Princeton, is moving to a new location on Witherspoon Street. For over 10 years, TigerLabs has offered a home to would-be tech titans and start-up entrepreneurs, but with the current lease expiring, a new home at 300 Witherspoon Street beckons. Staff held a “last hurrah” party today to mark the move.
Princeton University presented a full application for its newest undergraduate residential college, ‘Hobson College’, at a meeting of the Princeton Planning Board on January 19, 2023. The application adds further detail to a ‘concept plan’ presented by the University last year (See post: “First Look: Concept Plan For ‘Hobson College’ At Princeton University“).
The future of rail transit from New Jersey to New York City has been in the news recently, with President Biden appearing in New York last week to celebrate the first steps in the Gateway Project, which will eventually lead to construction of the first new rail tunnesl across the Hudson River in over 100 years. Construction is beginning thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed in 2021. New tunnels would allow more trains to run into New York Penn Station, but this brings a new problem, because the station can’t take any more trains right now. Fortunately, Amtrak, which owns the station, has a plan…
The Chairman voted “No”, but other members of the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment saw enough to like about a revised ‘Lincoln Court’ apartment plan to approve the project. The vote came at the ZBA’s regular meeting on January 25. The developer is RB Homes, the firm founded by Roman Barsky. Barsky is perhaps most known for constructing new-build single-family homes around Princeton, but RB Homes is increasingly active in building multi-family developments, often including below-market-rate affordable units. The ‘Lincoln Court’ project will provide two affordable apartments, and eight that will be rented at regular market rates. A previous version of this project was considered unacceptable by the Zoning Board at their meeting in November, but the applicant very swiftly revised the plan to be ready for the first Zoning Board meeting of 2023.
On January 1, 2023, the town of Princeton, NJ quietly marked its 10th birthday. Ten years have now passed since the consolidation of the former Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. Over the years, the sense of identity of the two former Princetons has gradually merged into one unified community, and in December, the town Council passed an ordinance to further seal the marriage. The zoning maps of the former Borough and Township, which show what kind of buildings can be built in every part of town, were finally merged into one document (see image above, and higher-resolution version at this link). In practice, there has been no change or streamlining of zoning since consolidiation, the new map serves mainly to show zoning for the entire town in just one document.
The question of how to provide housing for all members of the community is an important question for Princeton’s ongoing Master Plan rewrite, which made it very timely for Princeton Public Library to host a forum on housing justice last month. Organized by Kim Dorman, the Library’s Community Engagement Coordinator, in coordination with several local community groups, the session offered two panels with experts who considered the questions of “how did the housing crisis arise?” and “what can we do to fix it?” The panels were each just one hour long, but the quality of the presenations was very high.