Princeton University Reaches Compromise With Historic Preservation Supporters Of Prospect Avenue To Save Buildings, With Details Outlined In Memorandum Of Understanding
Princeton University officials backed down from threats to demolish a former dining club on Prospect Avenue if the school was not allowed to demolish three Victorian Queen Anne homes across the street and relocate the old restaurant club on site.
A memorandum of understanding outlines the details of an agreement between Princeton University and the Princeton Prospect Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to preserve and restore buildings of historical and architectural significance owned and occupied by the restoration clubs at Princeton University and to educate the general public about history and architecture buildings. The Princeton Prospect Foundation worked with the Princeton Historic Commission to create a historic district on Prospect Avenue. A subcommittee is working on the language for the creation of the district and is expected to vote on the recommendation to create the district next month. The Planning Board and Princeton Council should then consider the proposal.
Princeton University submitted plans for its new 600,000 square foot Environmental Studies and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences project in November 2020. The project, which will be located along Ivy Lane at south of Prospect Avenue and dining clubs, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for seven university departments focused on science and engineering. A sticking point of the project has been the university’s desire to demolish three houses it owns across from the proposed development at 110, 114 and 116 Prospect Avenue and to relocate the Court Clubhouse building, currently located on the other side. from the street, on the site. The building is still used as an office for the school’s dean of research.
Over the past few months, the planning board has heard hours of testimony and public commentary on the homes and the former catering club. Opponents of the plan include several prominent city planners, architectural historians and curators who live in the Princeton area. Nearly 2,000 residents have signed a petition opposing the demolition of the three historic houses. And last month, city staff and a few members of the planning board reacted to the proposal. Last month, a question was also raised regarding the creation of a buffer zone between the residential district and the university buildings almost two decades ago and promises not to construct new buildings on the site.
Details of the new MoU
KyuJung Whang, vice president of facilities at Princeton, wrote a memorandum of understanding on October 20, just a day before the next scheduled planning board hearing on the project, detailing the compromise reached with the Princeton Prospect Foundation.
âOver the past few weeks, based on feedback received during planning council hearings, the university’s project team has been working to assess the feasibility of an alternative design that would preserve the four structures,â it read. in the memorandum of the university officials. âFollowing recent discussions with (the) Princeton Prospect Foundation, which benefited from expert advice from city staff, on October 18, 2021, the university submitted an updated plan to the Princeton Planning Board for review during its meeting on October 21, 2021. “
The old Court Club would be moved from 91 Prospect Avenue to a site across the street, but closer to the North Garage than the university’s original proposal. 114 Prospect and 116 Prospect would remain in place, but 110 Prospect would be moved by the university to a site near the back of 114 and 116 Prospect.
If the university’s plan to relocate 91 Prospect is approved by the Planning Council and is not challenged by residents or the Princeton Prospect Foundation, Princeton University is committed to:
- Support the creation of a new local historic district being considered by the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission called “Prospect Avenue Historic Dlstrlct” which would include the sites where the 91 Prospect Avenue Court Clubhouse has been relocated, the structure moved from 110 Prospect Avenue and the existing 114, 116 and 120 structures from Prospect Avenue. The university would agree to include the Ferris Thompson walkway and associated brick wall in the neighborhood.
2. Within six months of the relocation of 91 Prospect and 110 Prospect, the university would submit an application to the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service requesting an adjustment of the historic district boundaries of the State and Federal Government of Princeton to add the moved 91 Prospect. Court Club, the relocated house from 110 Prospect Avenue, existing homes 114, 116, and 120 Prospect Avenue, as well as the Ferris Thompson walkway and brick wall associated with the neighborhoods.
3. The university promised to rehabilitate the 110, 114 and 116 Prospect in a way that meets the Home Secretary’s standards for handling historic properties. Currently, the houses are dilapidated. The former Court Club building would still serve as the office of the Dean of Research. Both 110 and 114 Prospect would be used for housing, and 116 Prospect would continue to be used for offices.
4. The university would also work with the Princeton Prospect Foundation to develop a landscaping plan for the Prospect Avenue facade of the Theorists’ Pavilion which is part of the new Environmental Studies and Faculty of Engineering and Research Building. Applied Science. The theoreticians’ pavilion will use the land where the Court Club is currently located.
âFinally, we note that we commemorate the above commitments, made during our recent discussions with the PPF and municipal staff, at the request of the Foundation,â reads the memorandum. âPPF, in turn, has assured its full support for the project given the planned update of the site plan and the University commitments described above. “
Princeton Planning Council will continue its review of the plans for Prospect Avenue in 7 p.m. Thursday evening October 21 via Zoom.