On Tuesday night, the Princeton Planning Board approved another key part of the town’s affordable housing plan, a 125-unit mixed-income apartment community at the intersection of North Harrison St and Terhune Road. The development includes a number of advanced ecological features, improved bike and walking amenities, and community benefits including a new playground and a public dog park.
The proposed housing is an area of land next to the parking lot for McCaffrey’s supermarket in the Princeton Shopping Center (map). The ~6 acre site was used for dumping fill during the construction of the Princeton Shopping Center in the 1950s, and has remained undeveloped ever since. The current development proposal is for a single building, and is similar to a concept endorsed by Princeton Council in June 2021 (story: “Princeton Council Approves Inclusionary Development Concept for Harrison St / Terhune Rd).
The applicant is ‘Terhune Urban Renewal LLC’, a subdivision of WinnCompanies, one of the largest operators of residential communities in the country. Several members of the applicant team have a local connection, however, including Vice-President of Real Estate Development Steve Gilbert, a 35-year Princeton resident, who explained that the new apartment complex would be named “The Alice”, after his sister Alice Winn, who was also the wife of company founder Arthur Winn.
The new building, which is fully compliant with local zoning, would provide 125 homes, of which 25 would be affordable homes for qualified households of below-average income. The apartments would be a mixture of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units. Constructed from stucco, stone, and wood-effect panels, ‘The Alice’ has balconies will have balconies every unit, and a roof deck. Other resident amenities include a fitness center, exhibition area for local art, and a ‘pet spa’.
Affordable units would be distributed around the building. The site would be planted with 390 new trees, more than replacing those removed during construction. The application is fully conforming to zoning for the area. 163 parking spaces would be provided, including 15 slots fitted for EV charging. Traffic engineer Corey Chase presented models for traffic flow before and after development of “The Alice”, which indicate a maximum addition of 60 trips per hour, which is not expected to have a major impact on level-of-service at nearby intersections.
The new apartment complex would have a range of advanced ‘green’ features, including all-electric heating, ‘passive house’ high-performance envelope, and rooftop solar panels. The building would be LEED-Gold equivalent, far exceeding the sustainability features of most Princeton housing. An 831-page stormwater management plan describes porous pavement, outlet control and green roofs to filter and control water run-off from the site. Alternatives to car use would be incentivized through the addition of new bike lanes on North Harrison St and Terhune Road, and provision of bike racks and bicycle storage areas. Spaces for carshare vehicles will also be provided, and the site is adjacent to Princeton Shopping Center, an important local transit hub and potential future terminus of a high-frequency busway under consideration as part of the Princeton Transitway Study.
Importantly, a new access road would be constructed off Terhune Road, which would provide access to the parking areas at the rear of the apartment complex. This road would eventually connect to the parking lot of the Princeton Shopping Center near McCaffrey’s supermarket. A new bike / walk path will run alongside the road, and a new playground for young children will be added in this area. The developer will also be adding a new, public dog park at the edge of the site, adjoining to Grover Park. This dog park will have areas for both large and small dogs. A dog park has been a desire of many Princeton dog-owners since at least 2013, when Walkable Princeton proposed Grover park as a suitable location (“Princeton Dog Park: Where Should it Go?).
Several members of the public, including Andrew Gomory, David Newton, Lesley Wishnick, and Tineke Theo expressed enthusiasm for the application during public comment. The Planning Board ultimately approved the site plan on an unanimous vote. WinnCompanies Senior Vice-President David Ginsberg said that construction would take around 16 months, and he hoped that the new apartments would be open for occupancy as soon as “late 2023 or early 2024”.
Links to documents describing the application (via Princeton Planning Department website):
- Applicant’s presentation to Princeton Planning Board (PDF)
- Planning Board submission, including building elevations
- Detailed site plan
Video of the Planning Board discussion: