Residents to resume testimony for proposed hotel project at 20 Nassau St.

20 Nassau St. building in Princeton. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
×
20 Nassau St. building in Princeton. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

The Princeton Zoning Board will continue hearing testimony from the public before it makes a decision on whether to approve the 20 Nassau St. proposed project adapting the building into a hotel.

The public hearing for the application is set to resume on Jan. 20. If approved by the zoning board, the application will then make its way to the Princeton Planning Board for review.

The adapted reuse of the 20 Nassau St. office and retail building on Nassau and Chambers streets for the proposed hotel would be a part of Graduate Hotels, which is a chain of boutique hotels. Graduate Hotels operates more than 20 hotels in locations across the United States.

Representatives for Graduate Hotels finished the rest of the balance of their presentation during a zoning board meeting on Jan. 6. Public comments and questions were unable to finish, due to not enough time remaining in the meeting and left off with Bank Street resident Bill Gray’s testimony.

The proposed hotel abuts residential homes residing on Bank Street. The existing six-story building structure on Nassau Street would remain and the lower Chamber Street building would be demolished. A five-story above grade building is to be constructed for the hotel to replace the demolished portion of the building and will have one basement level.

In connecting both buildings the applicant will construct a proposed six-story hallway building above an existing three-story building behind the 20 Nassau St. building structure.

The first floor of the Nassau Street building would be store fronts (retail). The first floor of the proposed construction on Chambers Street, where the Chambers Street main entrance is set to be built, would be the hotel lobby and restaurant/bar. The second through fifth levels of both buildings are proposed as guest rooms for the hotel. The hotel is proposing 178 guest rooms for the hotel.

In addition, the applicant is proposing 80 stalls on site for valet parking in the basement level of the hotel.

Representatives for the hotel project are seeking variances that include: D-4 variance for exceeding floor area ratio (FAR), bulk variances include a side or rear yard setback adjacent to the residential at 10 feet, and seeking relief for 80 valet parking spaces where 100 is the minimum for the ordinance for valet parking.

Some concerns for residents consisted of scale of project, height, noise, traffic, sunlight lost and the setback.

Gray’s testimony, which was unable to finish due to time constraints, spoke to the concerns specifically for Bank Street neighbors.

“Loss of sunlight is one of them. Shadows created by the large building. There are a lot of issues with the noise coming up the ramp and down into the parking deck,” he said. “The setback is also a big issue and have concerns of pedestrian traffic crossing Chambers and Nassau at the corners of Chambers and Nassau Street. The drop off zone is going to create traffic and there will be backups more than usual.”

Gray added that Bank Street residents are not against a hotel.

If approved by the zoning board and planning board, the project’s overall duration of construction is estimated to be about 26 months. When completed, the hotel would join downtown Princeton’s competition Nassau Inn at Palmer Square.

“I wanted to take a moment to say how excited we are in the merchant community to have Graduate Hotels come to town. I welcome the competition and hopefully it will always be on good terms,” said Lori Rabon, vice president of Palmer Square and Nassau Inn. “I think we have a great opportunity with the expansion of hotel availability and another full service hotel to take back part of that market share that has gone to Route 1 for so many years.”