Mixed-use building proposed for Griggs Corner

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The Griggs Corner parking lot on Witherspoon Street, across from the Princeton Public Library, will be developed into a mixed-use building if Palmer Square Management LLC has its way.

Palmer Square Management LLC has applied for permission to develop the privately-owned parking lot, and will learn the fate of its application at the Princeton Planning Board’s Aug. 20 meeting.

The Princeton Planning Board began hearing testimony on the application at its July 23 meeting, but ran out of time. The board had scheduled a special meeting Aug. 6 to continue the public hearing, but canceled it because parts of Princeton were experiencing electricity outages due to Tropical Storm Isaias, officials said.

The quarter-acre property is on the corner of Witherspoon and Hulfish streets. It was the site of a restaurant operated by the Griggs family. After the restaurant closed and the building was demolished, it became a gasoline service station.

Since 1992, it has been a 24-space metered parking lot. The land is privately owned and does not belong to the Municipality of Princeton.

The application calls for constructing a three-story building on the corner lot. It will consist of 5,308 square feet of commercial space in the basement and 5,467 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.

The second and third floors of the building will include seven rental apartments – six duplexes (two-story apartments) and a one-story flat. It is likely that the flat will be set aside as an affordable housing unit.

Attorney Thomas Letizia, who represents Palmer Square Management LLC, told the Planning Board at its July 23 meeting that his client is “very excited” to bring the application to the Planning Board. He described it as a “smart growth, in-fill” development.

While the plan calls for seven apartments on the upper two floors, there will not be any on-site parking, Letizia said. Palmer Square Management has set aside parking spaces in the Hulfish Street parking garage for the residential tenants.

Civil engineer Matthew Conners said there is a plan to include a patio at the rear of the building. Trees will be planted along the patio, and planter boxes will be placed on Witherspoon Street and Hulfish Street.

The new building will “fill in the missing tooth in the urban smile” on Witherspoon Street, said project architect Joshua Zinder. It is in a very walkable part of town, he said.

Tracing the history of the property, Zinder said it was the site of The Imperial Restaurant, owned by Burnett Griggs, in the 1950s. The building was demolished in 1961, and replaced by a gasoline service station in 1963. The gas station closed in 1987.

Zinder and Lori Rabon, a vice president of Palmer Square Management LLC, said there are plans to install a historical marker on the site in conjunction with the Witherspoon Jackson Historical and Cultural Society.