Task force will evaluate housing component for Franklin Avenue

New housing development

Seeking input on the proposed redevelopment of the Princeton Housing Authority’s Franklin Terrace and Maple Terrace homes on Franklin Avenue, the Princeton Council has appointed eight residents to serve on the ad hoc Franklin Avenue Development Task Force.

The residents, who were appointed at the Princeton Council’s Oct. 19 meeting, will join representatives from the Princeton Housing Authority, the Princeton Council, developer Community Investment Strategies and the town’s professional staff.

The eight residents who will serve on the ad hoc committee are Earline Cancilla Baumonk, Elizabeth Bromley, Heidi Fichtenbaum, Harold Heft, Dana Hughes-Moorehead, Juan Polanco, Carlos Rodrigues and Joel Schwartz. Several of the appointees live in the neighborhood.

Princeton Council President David Cohen said some of the appointees bring professional experience to the ad hoc committee. Fichtenbaum and Rodrigues are architects, and Schwartz is a planner, developer and architect.

Cohen, along with Princeton Council members Michelle Pirone Lambros and Mia Sacks, also will serve on the ad hoc committee. The Princeton Housing Authority will be represented by Leighton Newlin, who chairs its board of commissioners, and Joseph Hobart-Weiss, who also sits on the board of commissioners.

The task force will help to develop a set of design guidelines for the proposed affordable housing development on the Franklin Terrace and Maple Terrace sites, to include the architect selection process and a redevelopment plan for the site, according to the resolution appointing the task force members.

The Franklin Terrace and Maple Terrace homes are located on Franklin Avenue, across the street from the Avalon Princeton apartment complex and the former site of the Medical Center of Princeton/Princeton Hospital.

Earlier this year, the Princeton Council adopted a pair of ordinances that could lead to the potential development of as many as 80 affordable apartments and 80 market rate apartments – for a total of 160 units – on the Franklin Avenue property.

The two ordinances grew out of a court settlement between the town and the nonprofit Fair Share Housing Center, which sued Princeton – and many New Jersey towns – for allegedly failing to provide their fair share of affordable housing.

In addition to adopting the two ordinances, the council approved a resolution that directs the Princeton Planning Board to examine the site to determine whether it should be designated as an area in need of redevelopment.

The AH-6 Affordable Housing zone, which is the basic underlying zone, would allow for the construction of one building of up to 45 feet in height, or three-and-a-half stories. It would contain 80 rental apartments, earmarked for low- and moderate-income households.

The AHO-6 Affordable Housing Overlay zone would allow for a new building that could be five stories tall, with commercial space on the ground floor. It would contain up to 160  rental apartments – 55% set aside for low- and moderate-income households, and 45% earmarked as market rate units.

While there has not been any opposition to providing affordable housing, some residents have objected to the dense development of the land – as much as 50 units per acre, if 160 units were built on the three-acre site.

Some residents also have expressed concern about the potential size of any new building that would replace the one-story buildings on the Franklin Avenue site, which is managed by the Princeton Housing Authority.

The Princeton Housing Authority’s Franklin Terrace and Maple Terrace apartment developments hold a combined 20 one- and two-bedroom rental units. They were built in the 1930s and 1940s.