Proposed Jugtown Historic District development plan is disrespectful of the neighborhood

To the Editor:

As longtime residents of Princeton (we moved here 20 years ago), we are writing to indicate our profound concern over the proposed 16,000-square-foot, 4-story addition to 344 Nassau Street, on the northeast corner of Harrison Street. The developer’s application proposes 15 residential units, of which 3 would be affordable. The proposal also includes 15 parking spaces, six for commercial use, in an area where the adjacent streets have no on-street parking. Further, the proposal reduces commercial space in the existing building. .

Like so many of the recent development decisions taken by the municipality the building, as presently suggested, ignores the historical importance, the aesthetic, and the practical concerns of the area. It’s baffling why this application is preceding through the planning development process, particularly as significant neighborhood concerns have been raised in public meetings, and letters like this one to the editor, conveying concerns to public officials. 

The proposed building is disrespectful of this neighborhood, which was designated a historic district in 1986. Jugtown/Queenston is one of the most notable historic neighborhoods to survive, at least until now, in Princeton. Originally, it was a crossroads settlement founded around 1730. The only older settlements in the area are Stony Brook, (1696) and Princeton Village, by what is now called Witherspoon Street (1715). Today, Jugtown/Queenston remains one of our busiest and most important intersections, while the historic roots of the settlement are discernible in the landmark buildings and the harmonious balance of residential and commercial structures of appropriately modest scale, all evident in a gentle evolution over three centuries. 

Our concerns, which are shared by many in the community are as follows:
 
The proposed 4-story design will: 

1) Overwhelm the 18th-century original home on that corner

2) Significantly harm the Jugtown Historic District by not conforming to the Historic Preservation Ordinance

3) Worsen the already dangerous traffic and pedestrian conditions at the Nassau-Harrison intersection.

4) Set the precedent for future 4-story additions on all corners of this historic crossroads.

The National Register identifies 344 Nassau as “the single and most pivotal building at the Jugtown crossroads” and should not be developed as proposed. 

We are not suggesting there be no development at all. The Historic Preservation Ordinance standards could be met by reducing the size of the proposed building to 3 stories, with a design compatible with the Historic District, and an appropriate setback from Harrison Street. 

We hope the application, as presented, will be denied. We hope the Planning Board will do what is right for the town and its residents. 

Thank you, 

Ron and Lauren B. Davis

3 Comments

  1. Well said. Preserve our neighborhoods and our historic character. Affordable housing – a Trojan horse to line developer’s pockets. Stop the madness Princeton!!

  2. It’s clear the developers own this town. How much money are they paying our elected officials to bulldoze through residents’ concerns?

  3. Why does Princeton have an Historic Preservation Ordinance if we’re not going to conform to its requirements? I believe the first municipal historic districts were created in the mid 1980’s and Jugtown was either one of them or followed within 2-3 years. So 40 years on are we going to just disregard them? No way!
    As others have suggested, a three story building would not violate the key historic preservation requirement that the view from the main right of way (Nassau St.) be preserved.
    I trust that the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning Board and our Town Council will not violate this sensible rule that has maintained Princeton’s architecture and streetscape.

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