Letters: AvalonBay Project Should Be Energy Efficient and Include Various Safety Features

To the Editor:

Princeton Community Housing, founded in 1967, is the largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing in Princeton, providing homes to nearly 1000 people – with 463 rental units in four communities and 3 single family neighborhood rentals.

We have been following the discussion on the redevelopment of the former hospital property, and offer a few observations based on our experience. With respect to distribution of the affordable units within the proposed buildings, planners need look no further than Griggs Farm, which effectively integrated 140 affordable units within the overall 280 unit development. At a 50 percent affordable/50 percent market ratio, Griggs Farm is an outstanding example of a successful inclusionary development where the affordable rental and owner occupied units are indistinguishable from the market units.

A lesson we have learned is the importance of providing supplementary safety features in apartment buildings in addition to systems that may be required by building codes – particularly a generator capable of providing power to operate at least one elevator accessible to all residents, communication and alarm systems, heat and power in a common area and lighting of hallways and common areas. During the extended electric outage last fall, residents in our 100-percent affordable properties such as Holly House in Princeton Community Village and Elm Court/Harriet Bryant House on Elm Road were able to safely navigate in and out of their homes because the properties are served by emergency generators.

Another important consideration is energy efficiency and energy conscious design factors – for example, residents should not have to shoulder high energy bills caused by unnecessarily inefficient heating, cooling, hot water and kitchen appliances.

Princeton is to be commended for insisting that the developer of the former hospital property include 20 percent of the total number of units as affordable units. This will add 56 affordable rentals to Princeton’s housing inventory – homes that the community badly needs, as evidenced in part by the more than 900 households on our waiting lists.

Rich Gittleman, President
Princeton Community Housing