SPRAB reviews plans converting Nassau Street office building into hotel

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Plans converting the 20 Nassau Street office and retail building at the corner of Chambers Street into a proposed hotel are making their way through Princeton’s government agencies.

The Site Plan Review Advisory Board has recently reviewed an application presentation on Aug. 12 for the proposed project, according to agenda documents. A date for the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Board have not yet been published.

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The six-story office and retail building was sold in 2019 to GPNJ Owner, LLC., owned by Ben Weprin, the founder of AJ Capital Partners, an investment firm operating out of Chicago that develops hotel destinations across the country. Weprin also founded Graduate Hotels, a company that develops hotels in college towns around America.

The building and property consists of more than 70,000 square feet and contained 13 stores and more than 100 office suites. The suites had various psychologist and counselor offices.

According to the application composite document, the building will be converted into a 191-room hotel with retail uses and a restaurant on the main level.

The wing of the building on Chambers Street will be replaced with a new six-story section of the hotel and the main hotel entrance with access to parking on Chambers Street. The existing pedestrian entrance and connection from Nassau Street into the hotel will be maintained.

The new building hotel would add to Weprin’s Graduate Hotels chain of boutique hotels. Graduate Hotels operates more than 20 hotels in locations around the country.

The project will be seeking several variances. They include a D-4 variance for exceeding Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and bulk variances for the proposed new construction. A parking variance was granted in 2018 to permit a change of use from retail to allow two food and drink uses on the site, according to the composite document.

If the Nassau and Chambers Street property is developed into a hotel, it would be the third hotel in or around downtown Princeton. The new hotel would be competing with the Nassau Inn at Palmer Square and the Peacock Inn at Bayard Lane.

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