The application that calls for the demolition of a 19th century building that houses the Terra Momo Bread Company and cigar store has been moved to the Princeton Planning Board’s October meeting.
The Planning Board ran out of time to hear the application at its Sept. 8 meeting. The applicant, CRX Associates LLC, wants to replace the building at 70-74 Witherspoon St. with a three-story building. The board agreed to put the application on its Oct. 20 agenda at the request of attorney Thomas Letizia, who represents the applicant.
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, plus a pair of two-bedroom apartments on the second floor, according to documents on file at the Princeton Planning Department.
The applicant proposes constructing a three-story building that would include the bakery and a 94-seat restaurant on the first floor. There would be two one-bedroom apartments on the second floor and a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor.
A variance is being sought for parking. Although 11 spaces are required, none are shown on the plan. The applicant 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, visitors and tenants.
The building at 70-74 Witherspoon St. is in what officials call 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 historic district, officials said.
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 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 building was owned by Flory and Lucy Toto, who bought it in 1924.
Prior, the building was the home of Thomas Sullivan Grocery in 1887, according to the Historical Society of Princeton. It became Dennis Sullivan Grocery in 1896, and Murray’s Meats and Grocery in 1910.
After they purchased the building in 1924, the Totos relocated their business – Toto’s Market – to the building, according to the Historical Society of Princeton. Toto’s Market was established in 1912 and was also operated in other locations.
The Witherspoon Bread Company opened in the space formerly occupied by Toto’s Market. It was followed by the present-day Terra Momo Bread Company, officials said.