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Owners of 20 Nassau Street in Princeton sign deal to sell building to a company that specializes in developing hotels in university towns (updated to include notice of settlement document)

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The entrance to 20 Nassau Street in Princeton.

The office and retail building at the corner of Nassau Street and Chambers Street in Princeton that has been the longtime home of more than 100 small businesses is being sold to the founder of Graduate Hotels, a company that develops hotels in university-anchored towns, according to public records.

Tenants of the building say that on Tuesday, Oct. 29, they were told that there is no sale and that the story is false. Planet Princeton reached out to management for comment and embedded the notice of settlement for the contract of sale for the building in this story. A representative for 20 Nassau told Planet Princeton on Tuesday that the sale has not closed yet and that the reporter will be notified if and when the sale closes.

Psychologists, counselors and other business owners who rent space at 20 Nassau Street told Planet Princeton that in recent months when their leases were up, they were not offered multi-year renewals. Some businesses were offered one-year renewals, and other business owners whose leases were up for renewal recently were offered only month-to-month renewals, business owners said.

“It’s hard to find affordable space in town, and many of my clients are university students. The location is perfect for them because they can walk here for services. I’m not sure where I will go if I have to leave.”” said one professional who did not want to be named.

The 20 Nassau Street property is comprised of four lots. Lot 20 is a 52,000-square-foot, five-story building. It is located in a historic district and is assessed at $7.4 million, according to property tax records. The property generated $172,451 in property tax revenue for 2019. Lot 19 is .20 acres and is assessed at $1.6 million. Property taxes are $36,204. Lot 18 is ,014 acres and is assessed at $1.1 million. Property taxes are $26,148. Lot 17 is .06 acres and is assessed at $431,200. Taxes are $10,055.

According to public records, 20 Nassau Street Professional Building LLC entered into a sales agreement on Oct. 23 with GPNJ Owner LLC for an undisclosed sum. The notice of real estate settlement document for the agreement of sale lists a Chicago address for GPNJ, with Benjamin Weprin listed as the contact. GPNJ is taking out a loan for the purchase.

Weprin, 41, is the founder of Graduate Hotels. a development company that designs hotels near university campuses. The hotels are designed to cater to guests’ nostalgia for college life.

Graduate locations include: Providence, R.I.; Columbus, Ohio; State College, Pa.; Bloomington, Ind.; Tempe, Ariz.; New Haven, Conn.; Athens, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minn.; Madison, Wisc.; Fayetville, Ark.; Richmond, Va.; Iowa City, Iowa; Charlottesville, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; Nashville, Tenn.; Oxford, Miss.; Berkeley, Calif.; Columbia, S.C.; Eugene, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Lincoln, Neb.

Politicians in Princeton have mentioned in the past that Princeton University officials wanted another hotel in town. Mayor Liz Lempert told a reporter a year ago that multiple hotel companies approached her wanting to open a new hotel in town and that they were interested in the Monument Hall municipal building site. It is unclear what role the Monument Hall site will play in future development plans. School officials have denied rumors that the school board and town officials have been looking at some kind of land swap where the town would buy the Westminster Choir College property and swap it with the school district for the Valley Road administration building so that municipal employees could be moved from Monument Hall and housed there, and then Monument Hall could be sold as part of the deal.

20 Nassau Street is home to about 125 professionals and small businesses.
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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.

16 Comments

  1. If and when this proceeds to community meetings and/or planning proposals there will be the inevitable discussions related to mixed use (such as retail, service business, offices, residential afforabdle housing) and if there is a plan for lodging the questions will be raised regarding the condition and capacity of the water intake and the sanitary sewer system, sufficient parking, trash and recycling services, delivery systems, radon testing and mitigation perhaps, new property tax valuation, possible impact on schools and the usual etc that our town always comes up with. It will certainly be entertaining.

  2. Current occupants of the offices: hire a lawyer, due to block? Westminster students did so.

  3. It’s a shame that given the number of hotels within easy access to Princeton, they’re doing away with a space bringing much needed services to students and the community. Also troublesome is the fact that many tenants weren’t notified that the building was sold, much less for sale. Many have been scrambling to find new spaces to lease after hearing through word of mouth that their active leases may be terminated prematurely, without knowing what timeline they are even looking at. Mental health services are so important to have easily accessible in this area, and it’s not like more spaces will be opening somewhere else for service providers to go. People forget that without healthy students and members of the community, there wouldn’t be a Princeton to visit.

  4. With all what is happening in Princeton, do not forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov 5. There are 2 council seats and 3 candidates: Bierman, Lambros and Sacks. Vote for the candidate that is willing to listen and ready to speak up if and when needed.
    Change is unavoidable; however, it should be change that benefits the people who live in this town.

  5. Remember this nNext time you need a local therapist or psychiatrist to intervene immediately in an imminent suicide attempt. This is absolutely a case for the town to exercise eminent domain to stop the conversion to a Princeton University annex — excuse me, a hotel.

  6. “Politicians in town have mentioned in the past that Princeton University officials wanted another hotel in town.” This says it all about who really owns this place. Want a hotel? Build it in your campus, I’m sure there will be plenty of tax-exempt land when you devour whatever is left of it around here with your 2026 plan.
    We’ve seen this before, with the demolition of blocks of houses and small businesses, including the original inn on Nassau, to create the Disneyland that is Palmer Square.

  7. Stop trying to turn Princeton into New Haven or Cambridge or Greenwich. We are already at peak crowding/traffic. Killing off local businesses drains any remaining character from downtown. If the planning board next month approves dozens of McMansions on the lovely Lanwin site, ecological keystone of the supposedly protected Princeton Ridge, that will be the last straw. Princeton won’t be a hometown any more, only a glossy Potemkin village.

  8. How is slapping up a hotel filling “underserved community needs” exactly, Tolerant? I would think the 100+ therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, tutors, and various other professionals would be much more likely to fill those needs than having an extra place to stick someone’s in-laws during the holidays.

    I agree that one should be able to sell their property to whomever presents them with the best offer; however, I also agree it would be an absolute shame to lose the only real office building in downtown Princeton that houses so many professionals that help our community be its best.

  9. If these type of services are so important to the students? Then the University has massive and more than ample land to provide client meeting space on university owned land. Another hotel and visitor services building will certainly filled underserved community needs.

  10. I would assume that a developer would need to seek variances in order to turn a commercial office building into a hotel as the uses make very different demands on the town. Is that the case?

  11. I think a business owner should have the right to sell their property and retire as they see fit and not be open to mind-numbing debate!

  12. With concerns about high achieving students’ mental health, the seller of this building has just removed the major source of diverse mental health providers available to students. Very sad indeed.

  13. A seriously unintelligent move. This will wreck the town as it is only the 1st phase in development. However, money is a prime mover despite damage done to residents. Sad.

  14. I think it is very sad that the municipality of Princeton would allow a developer to obtain a permit to turn this building, which has been home to more than 100 professionals/ small businesses (some of whom where tenants for numerous decades) into yet another hotel in Princeton. This building is the largest office building within close proximity of not only the town, but also the University. This will certainly cause many to have to leave Princeton as there is not enough alternative office spaces that are available within the city limits. The students, University staff and princeton residents have relied on the uniques services provided by the numerous tenants at 20 Nassau St. for many years. These businesses and professionals have improved the rest of the Princeton by bringing their clients to the town where they then have frequented other princeton businesses. This short sightedness will surely be a loss to Princeton!
    Obviously, neither the town, the seller, nor the purchasers of this building care a morsel for the loyalty these businesses have shown to the Princeton community over the years. Shame on you!

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