The Princeton Planning Board voted last night to approve a mixed-use redevelopment at 255 Nassau Street, in Princeton’s East Nassau Street neighborhood.
The 255 Nassau property belongs to local businessman Lou Carnevale. Formerly, it was the location of Davidson’s supermarket. Before that, it was a car dealership. Since then, it has also housed a ‘Wild Oats’ market and now a crossfit gym. The site zoning was the subject of extensive negotiations involving the former Princeton Borough council and local neighbors. Last year, a plan to develop the site that required several additional zoning variances was shot down by the Zoning Board.
Earlier this year, we saw site plans for the new application, which involves a 3-level structure on a footprint slightly smaller than the existing building. The existing building will be renovated and extended. The Crossfit gym will go, to be replaced with a ground floor bank. Four affordable housing units will be included in the final 23 residential units. A roof deck for residents will be on top. There will be 50 parking spots and a pedestrian plaza facing the street, which will also include a kiosk that could potentially serve food or be a small convenience store.
The new plan involves a controversial new curb cut onto Nassau Street. Previous access to the site was through a driveway on an adjacent property that is owned by the University. The University is not willing to provide a permanent easement, and the developer insists on having permanent access to the site. Until 1985, the site was accessed by a direct curb cut onto Nassau Street, but this was reconfigured during a redevelopment of the old Davidson’s supermarket. The New Jersey Department of Transportation has in fact already granted the applicant permission to open the new curb cut.
In the last few months, the building layout and facade has been remodeled following discussions between the developer and Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board. The final elevations, shown above, are for a building of brick and stucco, with more ‘alcoves’ around windows of each unit and a relocated elevator inside.
Cecilia Birge of the Planning Board objected to the building’s height and mass, although the new building is well within the permitted height limit of 45 feet, and has a slightly smaller footprint than the existing building. The proposal required no zoning variances apart from a question arising from the position of the curb cut. Ultimately, the Planning Board members agreed that there was little that could be done about the curb cut and that the proposed site access is, as Mildred Trotman said “as good as it’s going to be”. Only two members of the public stayed until 11.30 p.m. for public comment-0ne supported the plan, and one raised concerns about the height of the building. The previous application last year drew much more negative comment from members of the public, although it called for just 16 units instead of the 23 units in the present plan.
The new apartments will be footsteps away from TigerLabs, and the bars and restaurants of East Nassau. All sites on the University campus will be accessible by foot. Traffic projections, conducted using ITE guidelines, suggest that car traffic will be significantly reduced to the site compared to the previous use (Davidson’s supermarket).
What do you think about the final plan for 255 Nassau? Are you pleased at the final outcome? Would you live there? Let us know in the comments section below!