The developer under contract to buy the hospital site in downtown Princeton wants to increase the number of apartment units allowed on the site by about 15 percent, while keeping the number of affordable units the same.
Apartment developer Avalon Bay Communities, which entered into a contract with Princeton HealthCare System to buy the hospital site this summer, wants to increase the density at the site from 280 units to 324 units.
The 9.8-acre hospital property in the heart of Princeton has zoning approvals for up to 280 residential units, including 56 affordable housing units, and 79,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The property includes the main hospital, other medical buildings and a three-story, 741-space parking garage.
Avalon Bay plans to demolish the hospital building and replace it with two five-story buildings up to 50-feet high each. The existing hospital is 80-feet high in some places.
The company wants keep the number of affordable units at 56, even if the density increase is approved. A representative from Avalon Bay told the Borough Council Wednesday night that affordable units would represent 17.3 percent of the total units available, and that the industry standard is 15 percent. The borough’s requirement for affordable units is normally 20 percent.
Monthly rent rates for the apartments at the proposed Avalon Princeton would run from $1,600 to $3,200 a month for units ranging from 550 feet to 1,000 square feet.
Unlike the previous developer for the site, Avalon does not plan to offer any retail at the site.
Princeton Future will host a community forum with representatives from Avalon Bay and the hospital on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon in the community room at the Princeton Public Library so residents can ask questions about the project.
Philadelphia developer Lubert-Adler was originally slated to pay $55 million for the property to convert it into 280 apartments and light retail, but the company pulled out of the deal last year after the market collapsed.
The new developer, Avalon Bay, is a New York Stock Exchange-listed real estate investment trust that develops, redevelops, acquires and manages apartment complexes throughout the United States. The company is based in Alexandria, Va. and owns or has interest in more than 195 apartment buildings containing more than 60,000 individual units in ten states and the District of Columbia.
In New Jersey the company owns thirteen communities consisting of over 4,800 apartment units, including Avalon Run and Avalon East apartments in Lawrence, and Avalon Princeton Junction. Avalon recently acquired the 776-unit Fox Run apartments in Plainsboro for $86.5 million.
The Borough Council voted unanimously to refer the project to the regional planning board for discussion while the company prepares to demolish the hospital building. The council would have to amend the zoning ordinance to allow for the higher density.
The hospital, located in the heart of Princeton, will move to its new 171-acre campus in Plainsboro in May and will be called the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.