This article was originally published in the October 2017 Princeton Echo.

Lou Carnevale, shown below with Linda Fahmie of ROI Property Development, has led the effort to replace the old car dealer and supermarket space at 255 Nassau Street with luxury apartments. (Photos by Mark Czajkowski.)

If you are a longtime Princeton resident you might see a familiar face at the newest luxury apartment complex in town, Carnevale Plaza at 255 Nassau Street, the site that originally housed one of the country’s first Dodge dealerships, a succession of grocery stores, and a gym.

The familiar figure is Lou Carnevale, for years the owner — with his brother Henry — of the beloved Annex Restaurant that had provided comfort food for many years in its basement space at 128 Nassau Street, opposite Firestone Library. The Carnevale family had run the Annex since 1948, endearing themselves to town and gown alike with an unpretentious menu (red jello was a dessert offering), moderate prices, and reliable service from waitresses who knew many of the customers by name.

Fahmie and Carnevale with his sister-in-law, Rosina Carnevale, and her son, Rocco.

After Henry died in 2000, the operation was turned over to his sons, who soon converted the space into a higher end restaurant known as Sotto, which struggled, and then into a college-town sports bar, which eventually closed down.

The Carnevales were seemingly gone from the Nassau Street scene. But it turns out that the family had purchased the building at 255 Nassau in 1981, with the idea of someday relocating the Annex to that location.

At that time the property was home to a building constructed in 1929 by Arthur Turney, who housed his Turney Motor Co. and Dodge dealership there.

Turney’s descendants sold the building to Henry and Lou Carnevale, who had intended to move the Annex there, but instead leased the space to Davidson’s Market, which needed to expand from its original location at 172 Nassau Street (where the CVS is now).

Davidson’s closed in 1995 and was replaced by natural grocery stores Wild Oats and then Olive May. The building served as a CrossFit facility before closing for demolition at the end of 2014.

From the rooftop balcony tenants and their guests can see the university’s Holder Tower.

Carnevale Plaza opened its doors last month to its first tenants. The building includes 23 two and three-bedroom apartments on three floors. Two bedrooms start at $2,943 per month; three bedrooms at $3,977.

Amenities, which vary by apartment, include private balconies, two full baths with curbless showers, in-unit washers and dryers, gas fireplaces and stoves, nine-foot ceilings, and hardwood flooring. The building features a rooftop terrace with elevator access.

The ground level has several apartments plus a TD Bank branch.

Not yet open, but coming soon, is a freestanding kiosk in the courtyard facing Nassau Street, from which Bon Appetit, the Princeton Shopping Center-based gourmet food store, will sell coffee and pastries.

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