Planet Princeton

AvalonBay Prepares for Princeton Hospital Demolition

medical centerAvalonBay, the developer chosen to redevelop the downtown hospital site,  will hold a meeting with residents who live in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital site after demolition plans are approved by the municipality.

Representatives for AvalonBay attended the Princeton Council meeting tonight to update officials on preparations.

The audience was filled with representatives from labor unions, who called on town officials to make sure the demolition is done safely. Resident Areta Pawlnsky also expressed concerns about how asbestos removal will be handled at the hospital site on Witherspoon Street.

Jon Vogel, the vice president for development at AvalonBay, said residents will be given emergency  contact information for AvalonBay representatives before the demolition project begins.

“We will have a neighborhood meeting after the demolition plan is approved so people understand what will happen over the next few months,” Vogel said.

Work crews will enter the site from Witherspoon Street. Asbestos, underground tanks, and other items will be removed from the buildings. Crews will begin work on the the east side of the site, closest to Harris Road, and then work their way across the site. Witherspoon Street will be closed for a day while the eight-story hospital building is demolished. A 95-foot-high hydraulic excavator will be used to demolish the building.

All materials that are recyclable will be recycled, including masonry, wood, and metals. The contractor will monitor dust constantly and the data will be turned over to AvalonBay. The developer will turn the information over to the town’s construction department.  The site will then be graded.

The demolition project will probably begin this spring and take a few months to complete. Crews will work weekdays starting at 8 a.m.

Resident Sam Bunting expressed his hope that the park on the AvalonBay site is transferred to the municipality.

“Last year when AvalonBay was before the planning board, there was discussion that the new park might be a public park as opposed to a private park retained by AvalonBay,” Bunting said. “There were discussions about the park being transferred…As long as it remains a private park, there is always a chance it could be locked away from citizens. It should be a fully public park, as opposed to a private park. ”

Officials said that discussion could be part of the developer’s agreement. The governing body is slated to review the agreement with AvalonBay at its next meeting Jan. 27.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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