Prospect Avenue Club Row district on agenda for Princeton Preservation Commission Monday afternoon

The Princeton Historic Preservation Commission will discuss the possibility of creating the Club Row Historic District on Prospect Avenue at the commission’s regular meeting today, July 19, at 4 p.m. via Zoom. The creation of the district would not protect any buildings from demolition that are part of pending applications with the local planning board, because of the time of application rule in New Jersey. The time of application rule provides that “notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, those development regulations which are in effect on the date of submission of an application for development shall govern the review of that application.”

Historic district designation would protect any other buildings along Prospect Avenue in the district from future demolition and would preserve the historic character of those properties.

In 1993, a proposed boundary for a Club Row Historic District was created, but the district was never formally approved. The boundaries for the proposed district have been changed for 2021 to eliminate a few buildings.

In 1995, the Princeton Borough Council considered changing the zoning for Prospect Avenue between Washington Road and Murry Place from an education zone to a residential zone and historic district. Wanda Gunning, who recently stepped down from the planning board, was the head of the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission at the time. According to news clips from the Daily Princetonian, she supported the district and tried to assure eating club leaders that historic district designation wouldn’t hurt the clubs’ abilities to add on their buildings. “New things are added onto buildings in historic districts all the time,” she said in a May 8, 1995 story in the Daily Princetonian. The mayor at the time, Marvin Reed, supported the historic district designation and expressed concerns that Princeton University would buy eating clubs if they closed, would turn them into office buildings, and would change the historic streetscape. At the time, Princeton University representatives told town officials there were no such plans to convert clubs to academic offices.

More than 1,200 residents have signed a petition opposing Princeton University’s plans to demolish three Queen Anne Victorians on Prospect Avenue and replace them with a former eating club that is currently located across the street. If the planning board approves the university’s plans, the former eating club, Court Clubhouse, will be moved to make way for an entrance to a building called the “Theorists’ Pavillion” that will be part of the new Environmental Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Science complex.

In other business, the historic preservation commission will review the plans of Kirsten Thoft and Ted Nadeau to demolish a one-story addition at 33 Green Street and replace the roof of an existing house with a gable roof. The home is located in the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District and variances are required for the project.

The commission will also review plans for changes to the streetscape on Witherspoon Street between Nassau Street and Green Street. The street is being converted permanently to a one-way street between Nassau Street and Spring Street.