Board OKs warehouse conversion

12 May, 1986 (~estimated)

Board OKs warehouse conversion 

By Kathleen Cannon
 Staff Writer

After three tries, a local firm finally convinced Princeton planning officials to allow it to turn a dilapidated warehouse off Nassau Street into a combination office and apartment building. 

But Princeton International Properties first had to promise to equip the building with several fire safety devices and put sprinklers in an adjacent restaurant’s kitchen. 

The Regional Planning Board of Princeton Tuesday night voted 6-2 to allow the company to turn the three-story warehouse behind PJ’s Pancake House into offices and apartments. Richard Henkel and Susan Baldwin cast the negative votes. 

The hearing was continued from March and April. At those hearings, Princeton fire officials expressed reluctance to support the plan because the building can only be reached by firetrucks via a nine-foot wide alley from Nassau Street. The land on which the only other access point is located, behind the adjacent Eric Garden 2 Theatre, is owned by Princeton University. But the university would not grant the warehouse’s owners an easement for a fire lane there. 

Since then, according to attorney James Britt, the developer has proposed to install sprinklers, a water hook-up on Nassau Street instead of attached to the building, fire escapes, and smoke detectors. 

He also announced Tuesday night Princeton International Properties would be willing to install a sprinkler system in PJ’s Pancake House’s kitchen to protect the restaurant from a fire.

All told, the developer’s plan has “substantial benefits,” Mr. Britt said, citing additional apartments downtown, tax ratables for Princeton Borough, a safer restaurant, and the renovation of a “deteriorating structure.” 

He said construction is tentatively set to begin this fall, and the project may be finished by next summer.

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