Widespread development will have broad and lasting impact across Princeton

To the Editor:

Did you know there are plans underway to add approximately 1,000 new residential units in Princeton? While a few of these units will replace existing residential units, the vast majority will not. In a town with just 31,000 residents, this planned development will have a broad and lasting impact that will be felt across all of Princeton.  If each new residential unit houses, on average, three people, Princeton’s population will increase by about 10%. In addition, Princeton University is building two new residential colleges to house 1,000 undergraduate students and a new Lake Campus development to house 600 postdoc and grad students, along with a 600-car garage. The current non-university residential construction plans require somewhere between 1 and 2 new parking spaces per unit.  

Recently, the Princeton Coalition for Responsible Development (PCRD) conducted numerous conversations with residents throughout Princeton, and we realized that many aren’t aware of the developments being planned for our town.  We are not opposed to new development per se and we certainly welcome new neighbors from near and far to our community. However, with projects being planned and approved piecemeal, it is difficult to get the full picture of what is happening. With the new construction season about to commence and with a number of projects about to break ground, we think this is a good time to bring attention to the real estate development projects currently underway or in active planning.

While many of us have been in various states of quarantine or isolation during the two-year pandemic, developers and town officials have been actively at work.  There are at least 19 significant development projects underway or planned in Princeton. These include Thanet Road projects adding 300 units and Princeton Shopping Center projects adding 330 units.  In addition to new residential construction, in the central business district, Triumph Brewing Co. is converting the old Post Office building on Palmer Square to a 300-seat restaurant with no additional parking spaces, and the Graduate Hotel at the corner of Nassau and Chambers Streets will have 180 rooms but only 76 parking spaces for overnight guests. The implications of these two projects on congestion in the center of Princeton are enormous.  These are just some of the projects you should know about.

What impact will all of these projects have on our streets, on our neighborhoods, on the environment, and in our schools? For details about these and other projects, and an interactive map showing the locations of the projects, we encourage all Princeton residents to go to the PCRD website www.pcrd.info.

Jo Butler
David DeMuth
Jack Kerr
Karen O’Connell
of the Princeton Coalition for Responsible Development


  1. The planning board seems to be without conscience or restraint. They don’t seem to care what happens to the middle of town, and this is how so many cities end up being tree-less slums. They grant every single variance requesting less permeable surface than zoning requires, ignoring the many past floods in this town. Every decision seems to be in favor of developers and builders, and none in favor of dedicated residents trying to conserve the walkability and beauty and safety of their neighborhoods.

  2. Constant business expansion outward and upward. Was this in the previous Master Plan? Councils freefall without regard to a budget or a plan has gotten us here. And no sight of stopping. Sticking it to the taxpayers. The lack of proper representation and stewardship of tax dollars should alarm every resident. Maybe Council is lining Witherspoon Street with new money trees.

  3. This opinion seems very uninformed, one-sided and shows a silo way of thinking. Development and redevelopment of small and medium sized towns is exactly what we need. For too long we’ve been developing suburban communities that require people to drive everywhere and live far from where they work. This Coalition calls out a successful restaurant for expanding to 300-seats which is laughable. We should be happy that Triumph is allowed to expand without being required to add thousands of square feet of asphalt parking in town. Look at Trenton or other historic towns that have been paved over with parking lots. Would they rather have that in Princeton? Or would they rather not have businesses expand and keep things like they were forever without any business growth? Chambers Street Garage has plenty of space and is a short walk away. Same thing goes for the new hotel which will bring in people who will spend money in Princeton. They can use existing garages.

    Let’s make use of existing infrastructure instead of complaining about businesses not putting in parking lots that will destroy the fabric of the town.

    Pointing to Princeton University’s parking garage shows the coalition is uninformed that the University has large plans for concentrating traffic there and then using transit to move people around once they get to the garage. New transit lines are proposed, bike infrastructure is being built out and they are coordinating with NJ Transit and the County on improvements. The garage will help offset parking spaces they are eliminating from campus so the total increase is marginal once other surface parking lots are ripped up.

    The Lake Campus is not even in Princeton but West Windsor so talking about Princeton zoning and parking requirements in West Windsor shows the coalition is uninformed of how zoning works. As for the other units in town, there is a significant housing demand from younger people who want to stay in New Jersey and Princeton but because of these NIMBY groups, it is becoming harder and harder. No wonder so many young people have to move once they graduate. It’s not that they don’t want to but because so many barriers have been put up for an affordable quality of life where you can live and work and play in the same town. Shame on this coalition.

    1. Thank you, this was very eloquently put – these NIMBY groups are painful to listen to. They have no understanding of what the next generation of adults are facing in terms of being able to own a home, let alone have an understanding about how low density housing is driving urban sprawl. I guess the environment is something for their grandkids to worry about.

    2. Your comment is condescending, and of course it is always easy to use the NIMBY slander against any person or group who raises legitimate concerns, as a way to silence them. The group of educated Princetonians (one is a former council member) realizes the Lake Campus is in West Windsor. Stop insulting their intelligence. You can’t separate what goes on just across the border in West Windsor from Princeton. Also, the undergraduate expansion is happening in Princeton. Gridlock in town is getting worse. The one-way street change at Witherspoon has made things a nightmare. We are going to become like Arlington, Va. and other towns where it is mierable to get around. Meanwhile the Princeton taxpayer foots the bill to the tune of an average of almost $20,000 in taxes a year. When all this expansion happens school taxes will skyrocket again. Who benefits from all this development? Developers for sure. The university, which doesn’t feel it is responsible for housing its workers near the school. New housing will mostly go to university affiliates. Princeton will have apartments for highly educated yuppies, million dollar homes, and then a smattering of lower income apartments. The middle and upper middle class homeowners will be extinct in Princeton. Density could be added in a much smarter way. Developers could pay into a parking bank. A few more garages could be built in strategic areas of town, or like many towns in Europe and some in the U.S., you could have park and ride systems to bring people into town. Developers are being given a pass, and sweet PILOT deals, on the backs of residents. The council doesn’t care because the elected officials run unopposed. They care about what their campaign donor developers want though.

      1. It’s time to end the Cranbury sending agreement to Princeton High School. We have footed the bill for school expansion for too long as Cranbury residents get a bargain. The schools are full and our taxes are excessive.

  4. Planning decisions in Princeton are truly incoherent considering current crowding in Princeton schools. Princeton High School is already overcrowded and the bond issues to significantly expand the buildings have not passed. How do the Princeton planners intend to educate students in high school when there is a dramatic increase in the population? Obviously they support another $126 million bond proposal–with the concomitant increase in property taxes–or dramatic deterioration in educational quality. These are not problems for the developers, only for the residents who suffer the consequences. Time for the planning commission to resign.

  5. I am happy to hear that the town fueling station will be expanded to accommodate the buses and larger township trucks to get them off of the side roads more quickly. Often buses have no place to go as they wait for fuel so this is a thoughtful expansion design to alleviate traffic. Traffic off Terhune and the Route 206 light needs the revamping. This project has my support as someone who drives around that area at least twice a day. Thank you to Council for initiating and funding this new project and finding the partial grant.

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