Princeton University to Host Meeting about Butler Housing Demolition Thursday Night, July 30

butler apartments
The Butler Apartments will be demolished soon. The original buildings were built in 1947.

Princeton University will host an information session Thursday night, July 30, about the demolition of the Butler Tract, a housing development for graduate students that is located off Harrison Street.

The meeting will be held from  7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lewis Library, Bowl 138, at the corner of Ivy Lane and Washington Road.

“It’s standard practice for the University to invite neighbors and ask them if they have any questions on projects,” Princeton University Director of Community and Regional Affairs told the Princeton Council Monday night.

“Residents feel more comfortable when there is not a microphone in their face and there is no press in the room. We are not trying to hide anything. It is no secret that we are taking down the Butler tract,” Appelget said. “We will post materials on our website like we do for other facility projects, and we sent out notices to everyone who lives within 200 feet (of Butler). Unfortunately a lot of people are on vacation at this time of year.”

Build in 1947, the houses were originally part of the Reconversion Housing Project for Veterans and provided returning veterans with what was to be temporary, barrack-style housing. In 1988, an additional 56 modular units were added to the development.

Now that the new housing for graduate students is open on Faculty Road, students who lived in the Butler Apartments have moved to the new development called Lakeside. TigerTransit service to the Butler Apartments ceased on July 1.

Princeton University is preparing to begin demolishing the 304 single-level, bungalow housing units at Butler, a process school officials say will take several months. Then the site will be used for event parking, at least in the short-term.

According to school officials, the University does not have plans for the site. Plans will be developed as part of the school’s planning process for 2026. Previously the school announced that a reconstruction plan for Butler would include about 220 new units to be allocated for rental and purchase by faculty and staff. The proposed plans for the Butler Site included over 110 stacked flat units, about 70 townhouses, and a mix of about 40 single family dwellings.

Residents neighboring the Butler Tract are concerned about the demolition of the housing and future development at the site. The Riverside Neighborhood Association has raised the following issues, and members of the group will attend the meeting Thursday:

– Given the age of the buildings, it is likely that asbestos, lead paint, and other environmental hazards are present. What steps will be taken to ensure the health and safety of the community?

– Princeton University has announced that it is not currently planning any new construction on the site, and instead will use it intermittently for overflow event parking. How will the presence of a large vacant lot, used intermittently as a parking lot, affect the quality of life and property values in the neighborhood?

– Is Princeton University willing to consider input from community residents about plans for the Butler Tract? What are your ideas for possible uses of the land? For example, instead of an unsightly vacant lot doubling as a parking lot, could the area become a park, field, or garden?

Princeton University sent two letters to Butler Tract neighbors about the project. The first is dated July 23, but was actually sent out June 23.

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