Fact check: How many affordable housing units are there at AvalonBay Princeton Circle?

Only five percent of the units at Avalon Princeton Circle are affordable units.

At the Princeton Council meeting on the evening of Monday, Jan. 22, a resident asked the council how many affordable units there are at the new Avalon Princeton Circle development. The resident asked because she went over there with a friend who wanted to rent one and was told the complex only has five or six affordable units.

“I always thought it was 20%, that this is the rule that we in Princeton have for rental units and everyone has to abide by that, which would mean that there would be about 40 units in that development,” the resident said. “So I’m curious about who is telling the right story. What is the right number of apartments that are affordable over there at Thanet AvalonBay?”

Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros told the woman she believes 10% of the units at Avalon Princeton Circle are affordable units. She said AvalonBay gave the town a portion of the Thanet property for 80 units of senior housing.

Councilwoman Mia Sacks said the total percentage of affordable housing on the Thanet site is 33.4%.

The percentage Sacks quoted combines the units for two separate developments. Only one of those was developed by AvalonBay. The affordable senior apartments were not developed by AvalonBay and are not part of Avalon at Princeton Circle. AvalonBay donated about 2.1 acres of land for the senior project in exchange for fewer affordable units at the Avalon complex.

Avalon Princeton Circle includes new 220 apartment units. The development only includes 11 affordable units. Eleven of the 221 units at the new complex will be affordable units, with five designated units for people with special needs.

AvalonBay also received a 30-year PILOT deal as part of the development of Avalon Princeton Circle.

Under the PILOT agreement, AvalonBay will be exempt from paying taxes for the land and the improvements for 30 years. AvalonBay will instead pay the town an “annual service charge.” In New Jersey, PILOT payments go into municipal coffers, with five percent going to the county, and no funding going to the school district.

For the first 10 years of the agreement, AvalonBay will pay the municipality an annual service charge of 11% of annual gross revenue.

For the following five years, the annual payment will be equal to 11% of annual gross revenue or 20% percent of the amount of the taxes otherwise due on the value of the property and the Improvements, whichever is greater.

For the following five years, the annual payment will be equal to 11% of annual gross revenue or 40% percent of the amount of the taxes otherwise due on the value of the property and the Improvements, whichever is greater.

From the first day after the twentieth anniversary of the annual service charge, the annual payment will be equal to 11% of annual gross revenue or 60% percent of the amount of the taxes otherwise due on the value of the property and the Improvements, whichever is greater.

For the final five years of the 30-year agreement, the annual payment will be equal to 11% of annual gross revenue or 80% percent of the amount of the taxes otherwise due on the value of the property and the improvements, whichever is greater.

10 Comments

  1. Gosh, it’s so reassuring to know that Council members know their numbers! They may not agree with one another as to what they are or how they’re determined, but I’m sure they’re both correct. It would be interesting to know just how many tax dollars are being lost as a result of this brilliant arrangement.

  2. Gaslighting – Victims of gaslighting are deliberately told false information that leads them to question what they know to be true.

    1. I questioned the 20% claim last year on Nextdoor about the Avalon Bay Thanet 11 units. Eva Niedergang clarified it by giving me the above “qualifying information” about the transfer of property from Avalon Bay for the construction of the Senior Living Program.Now with the above posting, I am further perplexed by the fact that Mia Sacks is saying that the total site will now provide of 300 units (80 for the Senior Living and 220 for Avalon Bay) 33.4% afordable Housing. That means 100.2 Affordable Units. 80 Senior Units plus 11 Avalon units only adds up to 91 units. Where are the 9 missisng units she is claiming? Is it a rounding-off error? 33.4 is a very specific number.

  3. There is a difference between affordable units and the affordable housing credits that are part of the legal settlement. There are only 11 affordable units at Avalon Thanet. Of those, there are five 3-bedroom units that are considered Group Homes. Each bedroom in a Group Home counts as an affordable housing credit, so the five apartments are worth 15 affordable housing credits. Fifteen credits plus 6 units (worth one credit each) is 21 affordable housing credits, which is roughly 10 percent of the 221 total units. Obviously, requiring 20 percent affordable units would be 44 units. An outright purchase of the excess Avalon property that they didn’t intend to use might have been cheaper than the PILOT.

    1. Interesting that the most factual answer isn’t from Council. And I always thought 20% was .2x. Thank you, Jo.

  4. Thank you for the reporting. Eve Niedergang is not running for reelection and one of the BOE members immediately (concurrently) expressed an interest in her seat. I bet no other insider will run — the civil servants in this town don’t seem to like competitive elections. It’s up to the rest of us to try to vote in someone else.

    1. Princeton parent, Jo Butler and I put up a web page of information for Democrats on how to run at princetondemocrats.com. We are trying to promote competitive primary elections, which the local Democratic organizations did in the past, including when we were up for election. The information is similar for Republicans although we’re not familiar with their endorsement process. Perhaps you or anyone else who is upset should consider running.

      This is because it’s good for democracy and not aimed at any current candidates or incumbents.

  5. I will never again vote for any of the current Council members. Single-handedly, they destroyed the Terhune Grover neighborhood. I find it hard to believe that they had no idea what they were actually doing

  6. Just what many predicted: greedy development that put enormous strain on the town, and in which the developer fails to stick to their compromise of increasing the number of affordable units.

    And the fact that they will not pay taxes for thirty years while the town is already over-taxed and schools under strain?

    A complete travesty.

    What is worse: the council continues on this path with the very damaging Master Plan.

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