In an earlier post, we noted that Princeton’s famous Palmer Square was still a work in progress, with construction continuing to the present day. We decided to take a look at the ‘Residences at Palmer Square‘, a complex of new condos and townhomes that is approaching completion around Palmer Square.
The Residences have several advantages, and a couple of disadvantages. On the positive side, we can say that these buildings have been built to an outstandingly high standard and represent a fantastic addition to the built environment of central Princeton. As these buildings are likely to be around for many years, Princeton can be thankful that Palmer Square Management LLC chose an ambitious plan to construct something that is pure quality. The complex features many highly-desirable features, as you might expect from a development targeted at the luxury end of the market.
The Residences at Palmer Square also offers the possibility for people to live right by stores, offices and the university. They are the quintessential walkable community, enabling people to live much of their life without getting in a car.
As we noted earlier this week, Princeton is facing tax headwinds that could see our tax bills increase in coming years. The construction of the Residences at Palmer Square has provided Princeton with townhouses and condos with a huge taxable value. Given the extraordinary price of these units, their assessed value is likely to be very high, offering Princeton a substantial and consistent revenue stream to offset the apparently ever-increasing expenses that local taxpayers are expected to support. Put simply, if you’re a Princeton tax-payer, these buildings save you money, even if you can’t afford to live here.
On the other hand, although rentals are strong at the Residences, several of the townhome and condo units have not yet sold. Critics of the development have jumped on this as a sign that the entire project was misguided, but it is hardly surprising that sales might be a little slow when we consider that we are emerging from the worst property crash since the Great Depression and the units start at $1.2 million.
Finally, the Residences at Palmer Square offer something truly outstanding for the wealthy in our community, but do very little to enhance affordability in Princeton. The Council deserve credit for enabling this project to go through, as it brings walkability, housing choice and tax ratables, but (as we have said before) we need to do much more to provide options for people on moderate incomes in our community. That will require other projects at other sites in the town.
Viewed from the north from the junction of Paul Robeson Place and John Street, the Residences at Palmer Square appear as a 3-level complex in a traditional architectural style. While some critics have argued that the project is ‘towering’ and ‘condescends’ to its neighbors, anyone walking down Paul Robeson Place would agree that the project actually fits harmoniously into its setting.
Exploring the interior of the ‘Residences’ complex, we find delightful courtyards, where access to residential units is afforded through a secluded mews.
The style of the Residences at Palmer Square is traditional. There is no ambitious modern styling here, but that seems appropriate, given that this is the final culmination of the Palmer Square development, which commenced in the 1930s.
Many of the units in the Residences have their own private balconies, a really nice touch, which could be used to take the air on a cool fall evening.
Looking around the development, we see that quality construction materials have been used throughout. These units have been designed to have the feel of luxury and to stand the test to time.
If real estate is mostly ‘location, location, location’ then the Residences at Palmer Square are in for an auspicious future. All the good stuff in downtown Princeton is footsteps away. These units are near the action, but at the same time offer a degree of privacy and seclusion that is highly desirable.
Right now, the finishing touches are being applied to the last phase of construction around the Residences at Palmer Square. The project should be completed some time this year.
Although these units offer the possibility of a highly walkable lifestyle, residents will be able to keep a personal vehicle in the parking garage, tucked away out of site in an underground facility with access from Chambers Terrace.
Her’s hoping the AvalonBay development doesn’t become a similar millionaire’s enclave…
Hi Charo- Totally Agree!! A big problem is that right now we have a HUGE lack of affordable housing. Moderate-income people can’t get a home in Princeton. The situation is so bad that even Princeton University staff choose to live elsewhere where it is more affordable!!! The Princeton Residences has 10 affordable units. That’s nowhere near enough. AvalonBay offers 56 affordable units. That would make some difference, sure, but is it ever going to get built? And if it does get built, will it be with the 56 affordable units, or will it get ‘downsized’ because of pressure from certain residents?
What do you have to do to qualify for an ‘affordable unit?’ I’d sure like to live in an affordable unit in this location, rather than pay $1.2 million…as would many people, I assume. So how is it ensured that the affordable units go to those who are ‘deserving’ (and how is ‘deserving’ defined)? Do key workers (teachers, nurses, firefighters – the people a town needs, but who generally earn a lower salary) get priority – or is it purely income-based?
There is a form to apply on the Princeton municipal website at: http://www.princetonnj.gov/forms/affordable-housing-rental-application-B.pdf
You’re right that there is no guarantee about who gets the housing. Income, family size and availability are listed as being considered but no mention of ‘key workers’.
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