Princeton officials quash ‘intense development’ on Jasna Polana golf course property

The 222-acre property has been listed for sale 


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The 222-acre property has been listed for sale 

Princeton officials have quashed any suggestions that the Tournament Players Club Jasna Polana golf course property would be developed for any other use other than what is permitted under current zoning.

The 222-acre property, which has frontage on Route 206/Lawrenceville Road and Province Line Road, has been listed for sale by commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield. It is known informally as Jasna Polana.

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Jasna Polana was built in 1975 by Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company heir J. Seward Johnson Sr. and his third wife, Barbara Piasecka Johnson. It was converted into an exclusive golf course in 1998, with the 46,000-square-foot mansion as the clubhouse.

Of the 222 acres, only 107 acres would be developable. There are environmental constraints, including wetlands and stream buffer areas, that limit where development may occur, according to officials.

The offering document prepared by Cushman & Wakefield states that 75 single-family homes could be built on the property, which is currently zoned R-1. If a cluster option is exercised, as many as 81 homes could be built.

“It is anticipated that the soon-to-be-updated Master Plan will identify Jasna Polana as suitable for a more intense mix of uses or possibly a site with potential to be designated as an area in need of redevelopment,” according to the document.

If the town’s updated Master Plan does identify Jasna Polana as an area in need of redevelopment and the town approves, “a more expeditious path to project approval may be pursued by utilizing state redevelopment law.”

The offering document states that as many as 2,675 units could be built if the property is rezoned. Of those 2,675 units, 20% would be set aside for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.

Despite the document, Princeton officials have rejected any suggestions or inferences that Jasna Polana would undergo intense redevelopment and that expansion of uses beyond what is currently permitted would be allowed.

The property is currently zoned R-1, which permits single-family houses. A portion of it is zoned R-1/AH to permit affordable housing, but the sliver of land earmarked for possible affordable housing may not be developable because of environmental constraints.

Mayor Mark Freda and Princeton Council President Mia Sacks said officials are aware that Jasna Polana is being marketed for sale, and that advertisements hint at the possibility of a “comprehensive redevelopment of the site consistent with Princeton’s Master Plan update.”

“On behalf of the Princeton Council, we wish to make explicitly clear that there are no current plans to investigate or consider designating the Jasna Polana golf course as an area in need of redevelopment,” Freda and Sacks said.

The Master Plan process is ongoing, but there have been no indications thus far that the property would be recommended as an area in need of redevelopment, they said.

“Any implication in the marketing materials for Jasna Polana that a more dense project, or expansion of uses beyond what is allowed under the current zoning ordinance will be permitted, is unwarranted,” Freda and Sacks said.

The Princeton Council is not contemplating any amendments to the current zoning ordinance at this time, Freda and Sacks said.

Developing the Jasna Polana golf course for residential purposes would have consequences for the town’s newly create Special Improvement District.

The SID was approved by the Princeton Council last year. It includes the Central Business District and nine other sub-districts, one of which includes Jasna Polana.

A SID pools resources from commercial businesses and properties to increase the economic value of a commercial corridor. It encourages businesses to locate in town and sponsors special promotions and events to draw visitors to the town.

The SID has a budget that is supported by special assessments on properties that are classified as commercial by the Tax Assessor’s Office. Jasna Polana falls within that category.

Jasna Polana generated $7,660 in a special assessment toward the SID’s 2023-24 budget of $367,000. The golf course property is one of the largest special assessments in the SID. Developing it for residential use means Jasna Polana would be removed from the assessment roll, creating a revenue shortfall, officials said.

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