2021 may be remembered as another year ruined by coronavirus, but a lot of good things happened in Princeton this year. A very-busy Princeton Planning Board gave the green light to construction of more affordable homes (probably more than in the previous 5 years put together) and an amazing new Princeton University Arts Museum. Princeton Council approved a new vision for Witherspoon Street that is likely to create a more beautiful and walkable downtown. And the long-delayed Gateway project to build new rail links between New York and New Jersey finally gained key federal approvals. But what will the new year bring? Here are ten guesses about what 2022 might have in store for Princeton…and don’t forget to read to the end to check how our predictions from last year held up!!
A development application has been submitted to the Princeton Planning Department for three new homes on the western side of Bayard Lane (Route 206), at the intersection with Birch Avenue (see map below). The proposal, from “West Windsor Real Estate, LLC” is for a small subdivision, in which three single-family houses would be accessed by a common driveway.
An event to mark the first new affordable housing to be constructed under the town of Princeton’s 2020 housing settlements was held last Friday. Princeton Community Housing, the non-profit organization that is the largest operator of affordable housing in the area, held a virtual ground-breaking ceremony for 25 new apartments at Princeton Community Village, on Bunn Drive (map)
The Princeton Planning Department has received an application to redevelop the property at 40-42 North Tulane St in downtown Princeton (map), to create an expanded building with ground-floor commercial space and 14 residential units. The redevelopment would contain a mixture of market-rate and ‘affordable’ residential units, as allowed by the town’s recently-adopted AHO-1 zoning overlay.
Princeton University has submitted an application to the Princeton NJ Planning Department for a major modernization of its Dillon Gymnasium (map). Constructed in 1947, the existing Dillon Gym was among the last buildings on Princeton University campus to be built in the ‘collegiate gothic’ style, and is probably one of the only gyms in America to be constructed with battlements. Dillon is the main site where Princeton University students can participate in campus recreation activities, but it has not been updated substantially since it was built. With an increasing student body, the University now aims to refurbish and expand Dillon, to provide improved fitness and wellbeing offerings to students and faculty.
With $1 million of state funding on the line, Princeton Council has agreed a last-minute change to the proposed new intersection design at Witherspoon St and Nassau St. The decision was made at a special Council meeting this morning, which was held ahead of an October 8 deadline to respond to the state Department of Transportation (NJDOT). The new intersection will have curb extensions to approved safety for pedestrians (see previous report from March at walkableprinceton.com). There was disagreement, however, about how wide Witherspoon St should be at the point where it meets Nassau St. The town had hoped for a pedestrian-friendly 13.5-ft street width, but NJDOT are apparently insisting on a wider 22-ft width, to make life easier for trucks turning into Witherpoon St from Nassau St.
A proposal for a new 18-unit apartment complex will be considered next Wednesday, October 18 by the Princeton Site Plan Review Advisory Board. The site is 21 Wiggins St, at the corner of Wiggins St and North Tulane St (map). The applicant is ‘Princeton Property Partners‘ of Ewing, NJ, for whom the managing partner is Aubrey Haines, a long-standing member of the Princeton business community. If the redevelopment is ultimately approved, it could provide an outstanding opportunity for walkable living just a block away from the heart of downtown Princeton. The redevelopment contains a number of attractive sustainability features, and four of the new apartments would be designated as below-market-rate affordable housing.
Princeton Council may be about to tear up its plan for a redesign of Witherspoon Street after local business leaders and elected officials heard a talk last week from internationally-famous planner and urbanist, Jeff Speck. Invited by local business leaders to tour Princeton and offer comments on planning matters, Speck gave a lively talk to an audience of around 100 people at the Nassau Inn last Tuesday, followed by a second talk to the local merchant community on Wednesday. Speck’s talk, titled “Towards A More Walkable Princeton” touched on many hot-button issues, including permit parking, the new Graduate Hotel, and Princeton University’s new Environmental Sciences Complex off Prospect Ave. The audience were regularly moved to laughter and applause. But it was his comments on the Witherspoon Street redesign which may have most impact on local policy…
The town of Princeton is in advanced negotiations with Rider University to make the parking lots at the Westminster Choir College site available for local residents and employees. The agenda for the regular Princeton Council meeting on Monday, September 27 included “Resolution 21-309: Approving a Temporary Revocable License Agreement with Rider University for Public Parking“. This resolution was pulled from the final agenda, because the town has not yet come to a final agreement with Rider University about the terms, but it became clear during the meeting that Council is actively pursuing the idea, and the resolution is likely to return to the agenda of another Council meeting in the near future.