On Wednesday night, the Princeton Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) considered an application to redevelop a surface parking lot at Witherspoon Street and Hulfish Street in downtown Princeton. The site, known as ‘Griggs Corner’, is across the street from Princeton Public Library. It has been used as a surface parking lot since 1992. Before that, it was a gas station, and going further back, it was used for a mixture of residential and commercial uses. Palmer Square Management, which owns the site, is now aiming to reuse the site by building a three-story development, containing retail uses on the ground floor, with residential living above.
Local architect Joshua Zinder presented the application. Seven residential units, including a mixture of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments, would occupy the two upper floors. To satisfy local affordable housing requirements, Palmer Square Management would guarantee that a two-bedroom apartment in Palmer Square East would remain available as a below-market-rate unit in perpetuity. Off-street parking for the development would be provided in the existing Hulfish St and Chambers St garages. According to Palmer Square Management, these garages have sufficient capacity to accommodate users of the new building, and to replace the 25 parking spaces in the existing Griggs Corner Lot. The style of the building is intended to match Palmer Square West.
The redevelopment would provide several sustainability features, as explained in the ‘Green Building Checklist‘. By redeveloping an existing site in a walkable area, the proposal would limit car use and reduce water run-off concerns. The building would also have a ‘green roof’ made up of vegetation. In discussion, some concerns were raised about how the new building might impact access to the restaurant, ‘Mistral’, on the north side of the site. Although the zoning permits the new building to be built quite close to the restaurant, several SPRAB members worried that it would create a narrow alley to reach the entrance of Mistral from Witherspoon Street, and the ground floor windows of the restaurant would face out onto the wall of the new building. The applicant was encouraged to have a discussion with neighboring property owners about this issue.
The proposal ultimately advanced on a unanimous vote for future consideration by the Princeton Planning Board.