As a neighbor of the planned Franklin Avenue/Witherspoon Street housing project, I see merits and flaws. It is a laudable goal to expand and improve affordable housing. The housing needs to be more than a stark apartment complex; it should feature green spaces throughout to give it a gracious quality. Also, it should rise no more than two stories on Franklin Avenue and three stories on Witherspoon Street, so as to fit the residential neighborhood.
The neighborhood is already the most overcrowded one in Princeton, thanks to the Avalon Bay housing development. Now the planner wants to add, in addition to the affordable housing, in the same space, 80 luxury apartments, with the most expensive ones costing over $4,000 a month. There are enough high-priced apartments in the Avalon complex as it is. The argument is that the income from the luxury apartments will finance future affordable housing. Has anybody seen the calculations for the profits after deductions for building management, maintenance, and finance fees? I wonder how much will be really left to finance future affordable housing.
With the nearby schools there is a daily traffic jam from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m. on Franklin Avenue going from Moore to the Avalon Project, and long lines in both directions on Jefferson and Moore Streets. Why does the new project need a garage? The nearby “hospital parking” garage is underused and the argument for expanding affordable housing in this neighborhood was that it should be within walking distance to downtown.
Finally a note in the time of the coronavirus pandemic: The denser a neighborhood and its rental units, the greater the risk of spreading infections.