7 September, 1984
Witherspoon St. to be home for “landlocked” lots?
By Maria LoBiondo, Staff Writer
Squeezing commercial development into lots without street frontage has one Princeton Borough Council member worried about claustrophobia.
The owner of the Athenian Restaurant and the Community Liquor Store at 23-25 Witherspoon St. wants to convert a warehouse located behind these properties into office and store space.
Owner Demitrios Tzovolos Thursday was expected to ask local planners for a minor subdivision to separate the restaurant and liquor store lots from the proposed improvement.
Mr. Tzovolos applied to the Princeton Regional Planning Board as First Princeton Corp.
But neighbor Irvin Urken, owner of Orkcn’s ‘Supply Comparty at 27 Witherspoon St. and a Borough Council member, said he is concerned about creating “landlocked lots.”
Allowing a subdivision with frontage on a parking lot (in this case the Tuline Street lots) rather than a municipal street could set a negative precedent.
“I’m sure one day in the future those lots will be sold,” he said.
The Planning Board’s function is to look to the future, and if the lots were sold and built on, problems could result, he said.
“It’s a financing reason,” explained James Britt Jr., attorney for the owner. “It’s easier to get financing for the rear of the building (if the two lots are subdivided).”
In recommending their approval, the Site Plan Review Committee said it considered the application of “particular importance” because similar developments are likely as demand for space and rents increase; More intense development is inevitable.”
Customers would have access to the two-floored building (retail on the first floor, offices on the second) via what currently is a driveway by Community Liquors, Mr. Britt said. The owner plans to install a canopied brick walk- way as an extension of Chambers Walk.
However, no parking spaces included in the plans and nine are required according to present ordinances.
The owner is requesting a variance on the parking spaces. While nine spaces are a small amount, these could add up, the Site Plan Review Committee report said, and suggested requiring the applicant to rent off-site parking.
As for fire precautions, Fire Chief Clint Groover said the proposed eight-foot walkway will not be wide enough for fire apparatus if the borough sells the two Tulane Street parking lots adjacent to the warehouse.
He recommended the owner install a sprinkler system.
If approved, the Witherspoon Street project will add to other nooks and crannies without direct street access found in the borough. Mr. Britt sited residences at Nassau Court between the Green Line Diner and the New York Camera store as a “successful’’ example.