Planet Princeton

West Windsor reaches agreement with AvalonBay for transit village development next to Princeton Junction Train Station

West Windsor Township has reached a settlement agreement with AvalonBay for the redevelopment of a 25-acre site next to the Princeton Junction train station between Washington Road, Station Drive and the Dinky train tracks, officials said.

Mayor Hemant Marathe announced the settlement agreement. The development will include 800 apartment units and 37,000 square feet of retail space. Marathe said the development will help the township meet its affordable housing obligations, providing the township with 132 units of affordable housing.

AvalonBay, the developer of the old hospital site in downtown Princeton, is under contract to purchase the property. Previously, InterCap Holdings planned to develop the property.

In 2007, the township’s redevelopment plan called for a town center on a 350-acre site with housing, public gathering places and retail. The town’s plan limited the number of housing units to 500, which was far below the housing density of the state’s “smart growth” planning model for a transit village area around a train station. In 2008, InterCap, the owner of the property, proposed a transit village development with almost 1,500 units.

InterCap filed a lawsuit challenging the town’s restrictions on the number of units allowed. A second lawsuit was later filed by affordable housing advocates, who said the number of affordable housing units in development should be higher. The township and InterCap reached a settlement in the multi-year fight in 2011, but then InterCap did not develop the site, citing financing issues and a sluggish real estate market.

The property is a core piece of the 320-acre Transit Village redevelopment zone in the township. The state officially designated the area as a transit village in 2012.

Marathe said the agreement with AvalonBay increases the percentage of affordable housing units at the development from 12.5 percent  to 16.5 percent, adding 32 more affordable units than the original agreement.

“It will finally give West Windsor the downtown that residents have desired for a long time,” Marathe said of the development. “The retail space included in the project will help increase the community’s commercial ratables and shopping options. The promenade and open pavilion will provide places for residents to gather. Both parties expect the development to be a vibrant downtown area that all residents can enjoy.”

AvalonBay has agreed to contribute to infrastructure improvements in the Princeton Junction redevelopment area, Marathe said. Improvements will improve traffic control near the train station and will make Washington Road safer at the intersection of Route 1, he said.

The council is expected to vote on the redevelopment agreement with AvalonBay in June.

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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