An agreement with a new developer has breathed life into the dormant transit village project at the Princeton Junction train station.
West Windsor Council is expected to vote at its June 11 meeting on an agreement with AvalonBay Communities for a modified version of the transit village project that was originally approved in 2011.
Council will also hold a public hearing that night on ordinances introduced on May 21 modifying bulk and use standards.
The ordinances add a hotel, which is part of the new deal, as an allowed use in the zone.
Construction of the project was expected to begin in 2013, but the subsequent departure of then-developer InterCap Holdings and changing market conditions resulted in it being put on indefinite hold.
Last year, Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said that negotiations were underway with a new developer, and those talks continued after Hsueh retired and Mayor Hemant Marathe took office in January.
Marathe announced that a deal had been reached with AvalonBay on May 21.
Under the new agreement, the same amount of residential—a mix 800 for-sale and rental units—would be built as in the original plan, but the number of affordable units would increase from 100 to 132.
The amount of commercial and retail space would be reduced from 70,000 square feet to 37,000 square feet. The square footage of the planned hotel is separate from the rest of the commercial/retail space.
Marathe said the size of the hotel is yet to be determined. “The exact square feet of hotel is not known at this point, as the developer needs to have an agreement with the township before any major chain will commit,” he said. “They have unofficially told us that they are talking to two national chains.”
Depending on the size of the hotel, the ultimate amount of commercial/retail space could equal or exceed the previous plan.
The project is located on the 25-acre office park at 14 Washington Road and would result in the demolition of the 96,954 square feet of office space and 13,168 square feet of warehouse space currently on the property. Much of the space in the park is currently vacant or leased at a low price.
The site, which is located within the township’s 350-acre redevelopment area surrounding the Princeton Junction train station, has been targeted for development for years, but various plans had stalled in the face of West Windsor residents concerned about new residents crowding the schools.
The township settled ongoing litigation over the transit village with InterCap in 2011.
In 2013, InterCap CEO Steven Goldin said that construction financing was not available for condominium developments due to the economy, and he didn’t know when that would change.
At some point after 2013, InterCap ceded control of the development.
Marathe said he is unsure how or why InterCap exited the project, but that AvalonBay will be purchasing the property.
Meanwhile, during the May 21 council meeting, councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton expressed concern that an open space area in the project set aside for public use would be controlled by the developer. She said she wanted to make sure that the township had a say in the way the public space is used.
She also was displeased the amount of commercial/retail space was reduced. “We started with 70,000 square feet of commercial, and now we’re at 37,000,” she said. “It’s a miniscule amount of commercial.” She pointed out that it’s half the size of the Village Square shopping center on Clarksville Road.
“This process has been going on for a very long time,” Marathe responded. “As mayor its my job to make a decision. As a member of council it’s your job to accept that decision or not accept that decision.
“This ordinance was arrived at after hard negotiations. I didn’t get everything I wanted, and the developer didn’t get everything he wanted. You can amend or change this ordinance, but if the developer doesn’t agree, we go back to square one.”