An event to mark the first new affordable housing to be constructed under the town of Princeton’s 2020 housing settlements was held last Friday. Princeton Community Housing, the non-profit organization that is the largest operator of affordable housing in the area, held a virtual ground-breaking ceremony for 25 new apartments at Princeton Community Village, on Bunn Drive (map)
Princeton Community Village was established in 1975. It is a mixture of townhouses and apartment buildings, which currently is home for 238 low- and moderate-rate households. The community is served by the NJ Transit 605 and 606 bus routes, and by a walking path along Bunn Drive to the Princeton Shopping Center on North Harrison St. The 25 new homes will be apartments in a new three-story building at the rear of the site, adjacent to Holly House and the community clubhouse. The building is designed to meet or exceed Enterprise Green energy efficiency standards and includes all-electric heating/cooling and capacity for future installation of rooftop solar panels. Improvements to the Princeton Community Village Ted Vial Clubhouse are also planned, along with installation of new bike parking, EV charging stations, stormwater management measures, and improved landscaping.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Princeton Community Housing director Ed Truscelli noted that the three-story addition at Princeton Community Village was “not simply a building project, it is about building welcoming and affordable homes in a very good community”. Truscelli noted that planning for the new homes had been underway for around four years, and that nobody ever imagined that the groundbreaking would take place with ongoing protections against a coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony was recorded and broadcast remotely by students and staff from Mercer County Community College. Truscelli also noted that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income communities.
Other speakers, including Alice Small, paid tribute to Princeton Community Housing leaders such as the late James Floyd, who had championed the cause of affordable housing in Princeton. Board President Valerie Haynes noted that New Jersey requires towns to provide their fair share of affordable housing as part of the state’s ‘Mount Laurel’ rules, which aim to prevent the exclusion of low-income families from affluent suburbs. The town of Princeton passed a housing settlement in 2020 to meet state fair housing requirements. These new apartments are set to be the first units included in this settlement to begin construction.
Princeton Mayor Mark Freda thanked Princeton Community Housing for their sustained efforts to bring affordable housing to Princeton. Freda noted that the town had waived developer fees for the new construction at Princeton Community Village. The planning application for the new apartments was heard by the Princeton Planning Board on March 18, and was approved with no major objections. The new homes will be connected to trails in the adjoining Herrentown Woods Arboretum. Funding for the new building is provided by New Jersey Home and Mortgage Financing Agency, the town Princeton, and through PCH’s ongoing capital campaign. A video of the groundbreaking ceremony can be viewed below: