West Windsor has reached an agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center of Cherry Hill that would settle a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit over the amount of affordable housing the township must provide. West Windsor Council is set to vote on the agreement during a special meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
In March, state Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled on the FSHC lawsuit, finding that the township is responsible to provide for 1,500 affordable housing credits by 2025. The agreement would settle that litigation and ensure that the township, the FSHC or any other entity cannot challenge the 1,500 number. Once approved by the judge, the agreement would also indemnify the township from builder’s remedy lawsuits.
Under the agreement, the township would provide for 1,125 units of very low-, low- and moderate-income housing, and get 375 bonus credits for rentals (rentals count double towards a town’s affordable housing obligation) for a total of 1,500 credits. There are a total of affordable 883 rental units proposed and 83 age-restricted units.
Under the state’s affordable housing regulations, a municipality is entitled to bonus credits up to 25 percent of its fair share obligation, which is 375 out of 883 in West Windsor’s case. Some rental projects are not eligible for bonuses in this round, because the rental bonuses have been allocated elsewhere. It is possible the 508 unused credits might be applicable in the next round after 2025.
In total, the plan would bring about the construction of about 3,000 new housing units in the township, which is far less than the 7,500 units some had estimated following Judge Jacobson’s ruling.
The settlement agreement contains a detailed overview of the mechanisms the township will use to fulfill its Third Round Obligation (the period between 1999 and 2025) of 1,500. The proposal is outlined below.
The agreement enables the township use existing construction of 260 units and 132 bonus credits, for a total of 392 total credits.
The Estates at Princeton Junction (39 units, 39 bonuses, 78 total)
The Estates at Princeton Junction’s credits are being split between prior and Third Round obligations. The development is eligible for crediting as it is inclusionary housing and for bonus credits for rental units.
Elements at West Windsor (6 units)
Development approval was granted in August 2004 for The Renaissance (now known as the Elements at West Windsor). This development is located on Old Trenton Road at Dorchester Drive. The development is age-restricted, with six on-site for-sale affordable units.
Princeton Terrace I (69 units, 69 bonus, 138 total)
Formerly known as West Windsor Gardens and now called Princeton Terrace I, the 42-acre site is located on the south side of Clarksville Road across from the Windsor Athletic Club. The developer (Atlantic Realty) constructed 273 market-rate units and 69 family rental affordable units. The affordable units are two and three bedrooms.
Princeton Terrace II (24 units, 24 bonus, 48 total)
Princeton Terrace II is adjacent to Princeton Terrace I on Clarksville Road. The 13.75-acre parcel is owned by The Glen at West Windsor LLC and consists of 120 rental units, of which 24 are reserved for affordable households. The affordable units are two- and three-bedroom rentals.
Artis Senior Living (6 units)
Artis Senior Living is located at 861 Alexander Road, south of the intersection with Bear Brook Road and Vaughn Drive. The site is just over 3 acres and is located in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Area. The two-story memory care facility was approved by the zoning board in 2015 and contains 64 units, of which 6 are reserved for Medicaid patients.
Avalon Watch (103 units)
Avalon Watch on Clarksville Road contains 103 affordable rental units. Originally approved as an affordable housing development in 1988, the affordability controls were set to expire in 2018. In 2013, the township extended the controls through at least 2048. A settlement agreement with the owner, AvalonBay, resolved its challenge to the expiring controls.
Windsor Haven (13 units)
Windsor Haven is a prior round site. The inclusionary development contains 37 for-sale affordable housing units. The original 30-year deed restrictions were placed on the units starting in 1990. The Township recorded new deed restrictions as units were resold, and 13 have been extended thus far and if necessary they will be extended further.
The settlement agreement outlines sites throughout the township that will generate 865 physical affordable housing units and 243 bonus credits, for a total of 1,108 credits.
Windsor Haven (24 units)
In addition to the 13 units that have already been extended in Windsor Haven, the township proposes extending deed restrictions on the remaining 24 units by municipal resolution.
Community Options (4 units, 4 bonus, 8 total)
In 2017, Community Options Inc. purchased a house on West Kincaid Drive for use as a group home. The house is currently being renovated and is planned to be licensed by the state to house 4 people in 4 bedrooms. According to Community Options, residents are anticipated to move into the home by the end of 2018. The development is eligible for credits as an alternative living arrangement and for rental bonuses. The township has dedicated $200,000 to assist Community Options in converting the home for occupancy.
Maneely/Toll Brothers (6 units, 6 bonus, 12 total)
The Maneely/Toll Brothers development is located on the south side of Bear Brook Road north of Windsor Haven. The project, being developed by Toll, was approved by the planning board in 2015. The approval called for 20 percent of the 30 rental apartments to be affordable, which was calculated to be 6 rentals.
The development will be a multi-use center with retail, residential units above the commercial space, townhomes, corporate suites and a 10-acre site for construction of a Project Freedom affordable project (see below). The other 35 acres are currently under construction, and the project is anticipated to be completed by 2019.
Project Freedom (72 units, 72 bonus, 144 total)
The Project Freedom is 10 acres within the greater Maneely/Toll site. The township has been working with Project Freedom, a nonprofit organization that develops and operates housing to enable individuals with disabilities to live independently. The development, Freedom Village at West Windsor, was approved by the planning board in 2017. A groundbreaking ceremony is set to take place on Oct. 17. It is anticipated that the development will be finished by December 2019.
The project calls for the construction of 72 units of affordable housing for individuals with disabilities and other affordable households. 18 of the units will be rented by the Department of Human Services for disabled individuals. The remainder of the units (54) will be open to affordable households that may or may not have members with disabilities. 13 percent of the units will be reserved for very-low income households.
Ellsworth Center (4 units, 4 bonus, 8 total)
The Ellsworth Center development is located on a 4.79-acre site near the corner of Cranbury Road and Princeton-Hightstown roads, adjacent to the Ellsworth Shopping Center in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Zone. The zoning board granted approval to Ellsworth Realty Associates LLC for a use variance, bulk variances and preliminary/final major site plan approval to redevelop the Ellsworth Center in 2013. The project includes more than 52,000 square feet of commercial space and 20 rental apartments above, with 4 of the units to be set aside for affordable housing. The affordable units are comprised of one 1-bedroom unit, two 2-bedroom units and one 3-bedroom unit. The project is currently under construction.
AvalonBay Redevelopment Area (132 units, 99 bonus, 231 total)
Earlier this year, the township approved an agreement with AvalonBay Communities for a transit village town center at the Princeton Junction train station. The project will be built on 24-plus acres at the corner of Station Drive and Washington Road. The property currently contains several office and warehouse buildings, all of which will be demolished.
The mixed-use development calls for 37,000 square feet of commercial/retail space and a hotel, which is separate from the rest of the commercial/retail space. Out of the 800 residential units on the property, the township anticipates 20 affordable senior rental units, 99 affordable family rental units and 13 affordable family for-sale units.
The developer is expected to submit an application to the planning board this fall. A 5-year build out is expected.
Princeton Theological Seminary/Woodstone (89 units, 53 bonus, 142 total)
The planning board in June approved an application for a development called Woodstone on a 54-acre property owned by PTS near the intersection of Wheeler Way and Canal Pointe Boulevard. A total of 12 residential buildings are proposed, including 89 affordable units. It is anticipated that construction will start in the spring 2019, with a 3- to 4-four year buildout.
Princeton Theological Seminary Phase 2 (48 units). Princeton Theological Seminary is also looking to develop a 68-acre property, which is currently developed with 240 apartments. There is a possibility that PTS might sell or lease the property to a developer. Such a transaction would require that 20 percent of the units (48) would be required to be affordable housing. If this does not happen by 2025, the township has committed to find another way to provide the additional units.
400 Steps (20 units)
The township executed a redevelopment agreement with 400 Steps LLC in December 2017 for a project that would contain a maximum of 100 rental units and provide a 20 percent affordable housing set-aside. The project would be located in back of the Ellsworth Shopping Center on the 3.85-acre site where the partially constructed and abandoned phase two of the shopping center now sits.
The project derives its name from the fact that it will be located approximately 400 steps away from to the Princeton Junction train station. The township anticipates a site plan application to be submitted in the fall of 2018 and construction to occur between 2019 and 2022.
Heritage at West Windsor (51 units)
The project, which would be developed by American Properties, would be located to the north of Old Trenton Road and have frontage on both Old Trenton and Princeton-Hightstown roads in the southeast corner of the township. The parcels total roughly 67 acres, although a portion of the site is encumbered by wetlands. The developer has presented a concept plan for 185 townhomes with at least 25 set-aside for affordable housing.
In the fall of 2017, Arc Mercer contacted the township to discuss its interest in partnering with American Properties on the affordable component of the project. Arc Mercer has agreed to construct a group home along the
Princeton-Hightstown Road frontage. The home is anticipated to contain four bedrooms and will be constructed as part of the inclusionary development phasing schedule. The Township expects a site plan to be submitted in 2019. After its approval, construction is anticipated to occur from 2021 to 2024.
Princeton Ascend (5 units, 5 bonus, 10 total)
Princeton Ascend is located at 43 Princeton-Hightstown Road on a 1.69-acre tract adjacent to the Rite Aid in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Area. The site currently contains a commercial building that is proposed to be demolished.
The planning board approved an application in 2017 by Princeton Ascend Properties LLC for the construction of two buildings. One would have first floor commercial and 17 apartments above, and the second would have retail space and 6 live/work units. The approval requires 5 of the rental apartments to be reserved for affordable households. Construction is expected to take place between 2019 and 2021.
Garden Homes (147 units)
Garden Homes is proposed to have 588 rentals, which would include 147 affordable units. The project would be located on a 64-acre site that has access to Route 1 north and Meadow Road. The property is south of Route 1 and adjacent to Meadow Lane Apartments and Windsor Woods. The township intends to rezone the property to permit affordable housing. Garden Homes has submitted a concept plan for 588 rental units. It is anticipated that a development application will be submitted in 2019 and construction would commence the same year.
Roseland (164 units)
The 25-acre Roseland site, owned by Mack Cali, is located on Route 1 north, between Carnegie Center Drive and Meadow Road. The parcel is currently vacant, but is farmland assessed. The township intends to rezone the property and create a new zoning district called PMN-1 (Planned Mixed Use Neighborhood/Affordable Housing District).
The new zone is designed to encourage a mixture of uses on the site, while creating a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly development. The draft ordinance permits: a minimum of 15,000 square feet of neighborhood retail and services; a minimum of 600 residential units, including one and two-family dwellings, apartments and townhomes; a hotel with a minimum of 120 rooms; and offices. The ordinance requires a 25 percent affordable housing set-aside and limits the average gross density to 11 dwelling units per acre. Building heights are permitted up to four stories.
The developer has prepared a concept plan, with input from the township, that illustrates commercial uses, a hotel and the various types of residential uses. Based on discussions with Mack Cali, it is estimated that the site will yield 492 market-rate units and 164 affordable units.
The township anticipates that Mack-Cali will file a site plan application in 2019 and 2020 for the entire project, with construction on the northern section of the tract, which will include 89 affordable units, to be completed by the end of 2023. Construction on the southern section of the tract, which will include 75 affordable units, cannot begin until January of 2025.
Sun Bank Property (3 units)
The Sun Bank Property is located on a 2.18-acre tract at 47 Princeton Hightstown Road, where the former Sun Bank building now sits. The property is in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Area.
The property owner, VCC Princeton Jct. LLC, has expressed interest in redeveloping the parcel and taking advantage of the permitted uses in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Plan. A total of 10 units could be on the site, which would produce 3 affordable units.
Dr. Mian Property (4 units)
The Dr. Mian property is located at 55 Princeton Hightstown Road across the street from the Sunoco gas station. The parcel contains 3 acres in the Princeton Junction Redevelopment Area. The site, which is owned by Princeton 55 Associates NJP, currently contains a two-story office building. The site also has access from Carlton Place. The property owner has presented a concept plan for 18 apartments, of which 4 units would be affordable rentals.
Bear Creek Senior Living (51 units)
In 1999 the planning board granted approval for a 5-building complex on Village Road East. The development was to consist of two assisted living buildings, two independent living buildings and a community building. Two buildings have been built to date.
In 2005, the board approved an amended application to reduce the size of the community building and reconfiguring the proposed independent living buildings. The two independent living buildings are required to contain a total of 51 affordable units.
Since the approval the lot has been divided into two. One contains the existing assisted living facility and the other, at 289 Village Road East, is vacant. The developer is proposing the construction of a high-end independent living facility for seniors that will include 51 affordable housing units.
Bear Brook Homes (2 units)
In April, the planning board approved an application by Bear Brook Homes LLC to develop a 10-acre property at 106 and 110 Bear Brook Road, across from the Estates at Princeton Junction development. The application requested approval to subdivide the parcels into seven single-family lots with roughly 3,500 square feet each and to create three townhomes. Two of the townhomes are proposed to be reserved for affordable housing.
Special needs units/market to affordable (39 units)
The township proposes to satisfy the remaining 39 credits of affordable housing through group homes and other special needs housing and a market to affordable program. Over the years many affordable housing providers and non-profits have reached out to the township to construct housing within its borders. This program would give West Windsor flexibility to solicit partners to build affordable housing within the community. This mechanism is also intended to be phased in over the compliance period as part of the settlement with FSHC.
On July 1, 2021 the township would start to identify sites, solicit sponsors and identify funding to construct the first third of the 39 units of special needs affordable housing. The first third of the 39 units would have to be delivered between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
On July 1, 2022, the township would start to identify sites, solicit partners and identify funding for the second third, which must be delivered between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.
On July 1, 2023, the township would start to identify sites, solicit partners and identify funding to construct the remaining third, which must be delivered between July 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025.
West Windsor would have the right until July 1, 2021 to substitute a site or sites that provide a realistic opportunity through inclusionary zoning in place of some or all of these 39 credits, provided that the development or developments proposed are otherwise in conformance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.