Four-Story Housing To Replace Pharmacy At Princeton Shopping Center (Updated)

Map of proposed new housing at Princeton Shopping Center (click to expand)

Tonight, the Princeton Planning Board will review the town’s plan to meet state-mandated affordable housing requirements. The plan has been developed over a period of several years, and envisages over 700 new housing units, as well as zoning changes to make it easier to add affordable housing in several areas. Although many of these proposals have been discussed in public meetings previously, the documents for tonight’s meeting provide an unprecedented level of detail about where and how the town will add new affordable homes. Among the sites for affordable housing is a major redevelopment at Princeton Shopping Center. According to the draft overlay, 200 new rental apartments will be built on the site of the existing Walgreens Pharmacy, which would be demolished, and rebuilt at a new location nearby. Continue reading

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Princeton Playgrounds Finally Reopening After Coronavirus Shutdown

The new “Maggie’s Playground” in Princeton. (click to expand)

Good news for kids (and parents!)…all of Princeton’s outdoor playgrounds will re-open this week. The playgrounds were closed on March 17, as a result of state restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus. Those restrictions were lifted as of last week, and playgrounds in neighboring communities, such as South Brunswick, have already re-opened. Now, after 16 weeks without access to the swings and slides, Princeton families will again have the option of using our many local playgrounds. Continue reading

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NJ Transit Capital Plan Offers Clues About Dinky Train Replacement

Rendering of possible Dinky train replacement, from NJ Transit Capital Plan. (click to expand)

A long-range capital plan released by NJ Transit earlier this month confirms that the agency is considering ways to replace the Dinky train, which runs between Princeton Rail Station and Princeton Junction. According to the capital plan, the existing overhead electrical wires, which power the existing Dinky train, would be removed as part of a potential upgrade. The estimated cost of the project is $61 million.  Continue reading

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Parts of Witherspoon Street in Princeton to be Converted for Outdoor Dining

Map of new configuration for streets in downtown Princeton, passed by Council on 06.14.2020. (click to expand)

Part of Witherspoon Street will become one-way only, with much of the space being given over for outdoor dining at local businesses, according to a plan adopted by Princeton Council on Monday night. The plan is the town’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Many local businesses were closed, or saw huge decreases in trade when New Jersey was under a ‘stay-at-home’ order intended to slow spread of the virus. As businesses re-open around the state, many towns are repurposing street space to make it easier for diners to eat outside, where virus spread is considered to be less likely. By changing Witherspoon Street to one-way traffic only between Nassau Street and Spring Street, Princeton will free up a lot of street space that can be used to place tables to help support nearby businesses and ensure safe ‘social distancing’ between diners. Continue reading

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Statue of Clarence Clemons Joins Bruce Springsteen At Princeton Gulf Service Station

Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons statues by Stephen Zorochin, at the Gulf Station in Princeton. (click to expand)

A new figure has appeared on Nassau Street in Princeton! Fowler’s Gulf Service Station at 271 Nassau Street has since 2017 attracted visitors to see the “Sea Sea Rider” sculpture of famed New Jersey rocker, Bruce Springsteen. In recent weeks, the statue of Springsteen has been joined by one of Clarence Clemons, the long-time saxophonist from the E Street Band.

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Redevelopment Plan for Griggs Corner Site in Downtown Princeton Advances

Rendering of proposed mixed-use development at Griggs Corner in Princeton. (click to expand)

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.
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Metuchen, NJ Will Convert Streets, Parking for Outdoor Dining

Diners eat outside on Main St in Metuchen, NJ (image via metuchennj.org)

The Borough of Metuchen looks set to become the first town in Central New Jersey to convert its downtown streets for other uses in response to the coronavirus crisis. A resolution passed by Borough Council earlier this week allows businesses to apply to convert curbside parking into space for outdoor dining. Part of New Street in downtown Metuchen will be closed to traffic on weekends, and several surface parking lots will also be reconfigured to create more space for outdoor dining.  Continue reading

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To Allow ‘Social Distancing’, We Must Open Princeton Streets to Pedestrians

Nassau Street in Princeton has wide sidewalks, but pedestrians must squeeze together on most downtown sidewalks. (click to expand)

In the past two months, the coronavirus epidemic has killed almost 7,000 New Jersey residents, and sickened tens of thousand more. State directives have closed all but the most essential businesses, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without work and with no means to pay the bills. Looking ahead, we have to find ways to allow businesses to re-open, without putting public safety at risk. “Social distancing” has emerged as one of the most effective approaches we have to prevent spread of the virus, but social distancing in downtown Princeton is currently almost impossible, because people are packed together on narrow sidewalks. To keep people safe, and allow more businesses to re-open, we have to consider doing things differently, and that means closing streets to traffic so that people can space out more.

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Closure of Alexander Street Causing Only Minor Delays for Princeton Commuters

The Alexander Street work zone, where two bridges are being replaced. (click to expand)

In late 2019, Alexander Street, one of the busiest roads leading into Princeton, was closed for a period of 6 months, to allow replacement of two bridges. Traffic counts show that Alexander St is used for over 7,000 motor vehicle trips per day, so many experts predicted that closing the road would cause major problems. The chief of police in Princeton said that roads would be “very congested…we want people to understand there are going to be delays during rush hour.” But just how bad did the delays get? We measured travel times before and after the construction project began, and found (perhaps surprisingly) that most Princeton commuters are experiencing delays of 3 minutes or less on trips into town during the morning rush hour.

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Architects Pitch Housing Concepts at ‘Princeton Future’ Community Meeting

Princeton Future community charrette at Princeton Public Library, Feb 29, 2020. (click to expand)

Community planning group ‘Princeton Future’ held a meeting at Princeton Public Library last Saturday, to discuss planned new affordable housing on Franklin Avenue. According to the town’s affordable housing settlement, agreed last year, and subsequently approved by Mercer County Superior Court, 80 units of new housing are to be built in a 100%-affordable development. The site is on the other side of Franklin Ave from the Avalon Princeton development, between Maple Terrace and Jefferson Road (map). At present, there are some older affordable homes on the site, and a large parking lot that was used by the old Princeton Hospital. Around 60 attendees heard more details about the proposal, offered public comment, and heard concept plans by local architects for what the housing might look like. Continue reading

Posted in Affordability, architecture, Community, Placemaking, planning, Princeton, Smart Growth, Sustainability, The Parking Question | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment