Princeton Planning Board to review application to demolish 19th century building, build new three-story building on Witherspoon Street

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An application that calls for the demolition of a 19th century building that houses the Terra Momo Bread Company and cigar store tops the Princeton Planning Board’s agenda for its September meeting.

CRX Associates LLC, which owns the building, is seeking preliminary and final site plan approval to knock down the building. It currently houses the bakery and A Little Taste of Cuba cigar store on the first floor, plus a pair of two-bedroom apartments on the second floor, according to documents on file at the Princeton Planning Department.

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CRX Associates LLC is proposing to construct a three-story building that would include the bakery and a 94-seat restaurant on the first floor. There are two one-bedroom apartments on the second floor and a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor proposed.

A variance is being sought for parking. Although 11 parking spaces are required, none are shown on the plan. The applicant has indicated that there is parking on Witherspoon Street and in nearby public parking garages, according to the documents. There will be bicycle parking onsite for employees, customers and tenants.

The building at 70-74 Witherspoon St. is in “a historic preservation no-man’s-land.” It is between the Central Historic District, which encompasses the Central Business District, and the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District, officials said.

The building was considered for inclusion in the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District when the district was created in 2015. It was left out of the district because it is on the opposite side of Paul Robeson Place, which is the southern boundary of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District.

A courtesy review of the application was held by the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission at its July 18 meeting. The review was suggested by the Princeton Planning Board in April because of the building’s ties to Princeton’s Black community. It was part of the historically Black Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.

The driveway alongside 70-74 Witherspoon St. is all that is left of Jackson Street, which formed the southern border of the historically Black Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. The bluestone curb is still visible.

The building was the site of Virginia Mills’ Beauty Salon, which was a Black-owned business that was in operation from 1931 to 1976, according to the town’s website. The Terra Momo Bread Company store was the site of Toto’s Market for many years. Flory and Lucy Toto bought the building in 1924, and their heirs sold it to CRX Associates in 1997.

The Princeton Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8.

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