Disused firehouses, the old PFARS station, and several parking lots are among the sites identified as suitable for new affordable housing in Princeton, according to a report from a task force chaired by Council President Bernie Miller. The task force was set up to catalog ‘publicly-owned’ sites in Princeton, and to evaluate which would be most suitable for affordable dwellings. By the time of their interim report in March, they had reduced the list to 44 potential sites. The final report, published today, narrows that list to thirteen sites. Council must now decide how to proceed with redeveloping them.
The full list of sites is as follows:
- 11 Chestnut Street 8
- 27 N Harrison Street
- Maclean Street Lot
- Birch & Race Street Parking Lots
- 303 John Street
- 400 Witherspoon Street
- Herrontown & River Roads
- 237 Harrison Street
- Franklin Avenue Parking Lot
- Franklin & Maple Terrace
- Valley Road School
- Princeton Community Village
- Grover Avenue, next to Grover Park
The importance of developing some of these sites is highlighted by the fact that there are currently over 1,000 people on affordable housing waiting lists in Princeton. Princeton is also likely to require hundreds of new affordable homes to comply with State ‘Fair Share’ rules. There are likely to be significant challenges with redeveloping these sites, however. In several cases, they are currently being used by municipal agencies, or are owned by third parties. In almost every case, there is a question about where the finances would come from to fund new housing. To address these questions, the report makes a number of recommendations:
- Relocate fire department services out of the firehouses on Chestnut and N Harrison
- Relocate PFARS to the proposed new site at Valley Road and Witherspoon St
- Rezone and redevelop the ‘Franklin and Maple Terrace’ property, which belongs to Princeton Housing Board
- Consider alternative financing models for affordable housing, including, where appropriate, rezoning to take advantage of 20% developer setaside rule.
Although the findings of this report may not solve all our affordable housing needs, it clearly represents a solid step forward and the task force deserves a lot of credit for compiling this list (and factoring in walkability as well!). The ball is now in Council’s court to make best use of the information that that they have delivered.
Do you agree that these are good sites for affordable housing? What sites do you think should be added or taken off this list? Have your say in the comment section below!