The Princeton Borough Council will discuss the possible zoning amendment for the hospital property at the council’s public meeting at 7:30 tonight. The developer of the hospital site is expected to attend and there will be an opportunity for public comment, Mayor Yina Moore said.
Avalon Bay Communities, 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. The company entered into a contract with Princeton HealthCare System to buy the hospital site this summer and 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 a density increase is approved. The borough’s requirement for affordable units is normally 20 percent. At a community forum hosted by Princeton Future, several residents questioned the proposal to increase the number of units. Some also said if more units are approved, the number of affordable units should also increase.
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.
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.
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.
The company owns thirteen communities in New Jersey 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.
Increasing the density would require an amendment to the zoning ordinance for the hospital site, which would have to be approved by the Borough Council.
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.