Jasna Polana, the 222-acre golf course and private club located at the corner of Province Line Road and Route 206 in Princeton, is for sale.
The mansion on the property, which now serves as a clubhouse, was designed by world-renowned architect Wallace K. Harrison. It was built in 1975 as a private country home for Johnson & Johnson heir J. Seward Johnson Sr. and his third wife, Barbara Piasecka Johnson, at a cost of about $30 million, making it one of the most expensive estates in the country at the time.
In 1996, the Princeton Regional Planning Board approved plans to convert the property into a golf course that opened two years later. The championship golf course is a member of the Tournament Players Club network operated by the PGA Tour. Between 2000 and 2002, the club hosted The Instinet Classic on the Champions Tour. The clubhouse, which includes dining facilities, a pro shop, and locker rooms, is 46,000 square feet. The property also features event spaces, a tennis court, and gardens with a reflecting pool. A marketing video for the property that gives an aerial view of the property has been posted online.
The confidential offering memorandum for the property, which is being marketed by commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield, presents three possibilities for the site: 1) The property could remain a golf course and the new owner could ramp up operations 2) The owner could maintain all or part of the golf course and develop the land surrounding it or 3) The buyer could completely redevelop the entire property. The memorandum notes that the municipality is updating its Master Plan and that the new plan is expected to be adopted by the end of 2023.
According to the memorandum, the property is zoned residential and is also zoned for affordable housing, with 107 acres being usable for development.
The memorandum projects that the Master Plan will identify the site as suitable for more intense mixed use, “with the potential to be designated as an Area in Need of Redevelopment.”
Under existing zoning, 75 single-family homes could be built on the property, or 81 homes if the homes are clustered together, according to the memorandum.
“A more intense project consistent with the Master Plan may be achieved by processing a rezone of the property,” reads the memorandum, which also notes that a use that is currently not allowed on the property might be achieved by seeking zoning variances.
“If the updated Master Plan identifies the property as one that should be designated an Area in Need of Redevelopment, and the municipality grants the designation, then a more expeditious path to project approval may be pursued by utilizing State Redevelopment Law,” reads the memorandum.
The Princeton Council has used the state’s Area in Need of Redevelopment law for two properties so far – Princeton Theological Seminary’s Stockton Street property and the Princeton Shopping Center. An Area in Need of Redevelopment designation gives the governing body control over the development of a property and allows the governing body to select a developer. The governing body can, but is not required to, offer tax abatements of payments in lieu of taxes to the developer.
At least one of the following criteria must be met in order for an area to be deemed an area in
need of redevelopment:
a. The buildings are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, or obsolescent, or are so lacking in light, air, or space, “as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions.”
b. Buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing or industrial purposes are no longer being used, have been abandoned, or are too dilapidated to use.
c. Land that is owned by the municipality, the county, a local housing authority, a redevelopment agency or redevelopment entity, or unimproved vacant land that has remained so for at least ten years prior to the adoption of the resolution, and that, because of its location, remoteness, lack of means of access to developed sections or portions of the municipality, or topography, or nature of the soil, is not likely to be developed by a private developer.
d. Areas with buildings or improvements that are dilapidated, obsolete, overcrowded, or have a flawed design, a lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, or excessive land coverage, or deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, and are “detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community.”
e. A growing lack or total lack of proper use of a property that has a negative social or economic impact or is detrimental to “the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the surrounding area or the community in general.”
f. Areas, in excess of five contiguous acres where buildings or improvements have been destroyed or altered due to natural disasters or fires, with the value of the property being reduced due to the disaster.
g. The property is in an area in which an enterprise zone has been designated pursuant to the “New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zones Act,” The governing body must have adopted a redevelopment plan ordinance, including the area of the enterprise zone.
h. The designation of the delineated area is “consistent with smart growth planning principles adopted pursuant to law or regulation.”