The Princeton Planning Board gave the green light to construct a mixed-use commercial and residential apartment building at 40-42 N. Tulane St., near the corner of Spring Street, at its March 3 meeting.
Applicant Princeton International Properties plans to incorporate the house into the four-story building. There will be 2,500 square feet of office space on the first floor and 14 rental apartments on the three upper floors.
Of the 14 rental apartments, 11 will be market-rate apartments. Three apartments will be set aside for very low-, low- and moderate-income households.
The plans call for demolishing a small, open-air side porch on the north side of the house and attaching the four-story apartment building to the existing house, architect Marina Rubina said. The enclosed porch on the south side of the house, which is office space, will remain.
Rubina said the existing garage on the property will be demolished to make way for the apartment building. There will be nine parking spaces for the 14 apartments, with provisions for chargers for electric vehicles.
An indoor bicycle room that can accommodate about a dozen bicycles is included in the plan, plus four bicycle parking spaces outside the lobby entrance to the North Tulane Street building, Rubina said.
There will be a 15-foot-wide open space area at the rear of the building, with picnic tables and an area for residents to congregate, said project engineer James Chmielak.
Eight trees on the property will be cut down and four new ones will be planted on the North Tulane Street frontage.
When Planning Board Chairman Louise Wilson and Planning Board member Tim Quinn asked about the location of the three affordable housing apartments within the building, attorney Christopher Tarr said they would be spread throughout the building.
The property is in the Residential Business zone – which is the basic, underlying zone – and in the AHO-1 affordable housing overlay zone. The AHO-1 zone allows for an added density benefit – or more units – if it includes affordable housing within the development.
While the Planning Board was pleased with the application, some members raised questions about the building’s historic status and the way that the existing building will be incorporated into the new apartment building.
Although 40-42 N. Tulane St. has not been designated as an historic property and it is not in a local historic district, it is in an area that has been recommended for historic district consideration. The AHO-1 overlay zone states that the building must be preserved and incorporated in the new development.
Tarr, the applicant’s attorney, said the ordinance calls for the “street-facing house” to be retained. For all intents and purposes, it has been retained and is being attached to the new building, he said.
Princeton Councilman David Cohen, who sits on the Planning Board, was not happy that the open-air side porch was being removed. He said he wanted to make it clear that he considered it to be part of the existing building and it should not have been removed.
Nevertheless, Cohen praised Rubina for being “quite sensitive” to how to include the existing building into the new one. Going forward, the Planning Board should be encouraged to consider anything that is visible to the street to be subject to review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
The Historic Preservation Commission did, in fact, review the application. In a report to the commission, Historic Preservation Officer Elizabeth Kim wrote that the house at 40-42 N. Tulane St. was built between 1906 and 1918.
Kim described the original building as two side-by-side dwellings. The house was built of brick and had a tin or slate roof. The building now has aluminum siding and an asphalt shingle roof.
Each side of the house had an open-air side porch. The unit at 42 N. Tulane St., on the right side of the building, had a smaller porch. The porch at 40 N. Tulane St., on the left side, had a slightly larger porch that was later enclosed.
The building has been altered over the years. The original porch at 40 N. Tulane St. was removed and a one-story addition was made to the front and side of the house. The original porch remains at 42 N. Tulane St.