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.
The proposal involves an adaptive re-use and infill at the existing site. Currently, the site contains one building facing Wiggins St that was formerly used by local non-profit HiTOPS. The adjoining lots, which will be consolidated into one lot, contain associated office space and parking. HiTOPS chose to sell the property last year, and will move to a new location in the former Princeton Packet building on Witherspoon Street. The old HiTOPS building would be kept as part of the new application, with the ground floor being used as an office, and the upper level converted into an apartment. Additional apartments would be constructed in a new, adjoining building, facing North Tulane Street. Plantings along the rear lot line would help screen the development from the adjacent Spring Street municipal parking deck and PSE&G electrical substation.
The design of the new building is by the Coscia-Moos architecture firm of Philadelphia, PA. It will have three floors of apartments over a podium level containing 14 parking spaces for a total of four stories. The maximum height would be 45-ft. The apartments will have balconies, and will be served by an elevator. The project is in the AHO-1 overlay zone that was established as part of the Princeton’s 2020 “Fair Share” housing settlement, to help respond to the shortage of affordable housing in the former Princeton Borough. It is proposed to have four affordable homes, which would be 1 x 3-bed, 2 x 2-bed, and 1 x 1-bed units.
In terms of ecological features, the development would have eight EV charging stations and secure bike parking. Transit is located a block away on Witherspoon St. Stormwater runoff would be mitigated by a green roof, new rain barrels, and an underground stone storage system. Existing large street trees on Wiggins St would be maintained, and new street trees would be planted along North Tulane St. The redevelopment is expected to produce an increase of 2-3 vehicular trips per peak hour relative to the former use, which the applicant’s consultant argues will be “barely noticeable”. Based on comments from the Site Plan Review Advisory Board, the proposal is likely to progress to further review by municipal committees and ultimately the Planning Board. Sadly, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, which occupied offices at the back of the site, will be displaced as part of the redevelopment. They are apparently still looking for a suitable space to continue their advocacy work.
Planning application describing the proposal (via princetonnj.gov): Link.
More architectural drawings and renderings (via princetonnj.gov): Link.