West Windsor Township’s long dormant plan to build a transit village development near the Princeton Junction train station has been revived with a new developer, Mayor Hemant Marathe said. The township has struck a deal with developer Avalon Bay to build 800 housing units, together with a hotel and 37,000 square feet of retail space, on the 25-acre site bordering Washington Road and the west side of the railroad corridor.
The new development will include 16.5 percent affordable housing totaling 132 units, contributing towards the 1,500 affordable units the township must build under a court order issued in March. Avalon Bay will also pay for improvements to the intersection of Route 1 and Washington Road to improve traffic, although the new road configuration will not include an overpass.
In a press release, Marathe said the development will “finally give West Windsor the downtown that residents have desired for a long time.” The housing units will be a mix of for-sale townhouses, rental apartments, and senior housing. Marathe said further details about the plan would be released in two weeks after the Planning Board reviews the project.
The 25-acre site, located within the township’s 350-acre redevelopment area surrounding the Princeton Junction train station, has been targeted for redevelopment for years but various plans had stalled in the face of West Windsor residents concerned about new residents crowding the schools.
The township settled ongoing litigation over the transit village with then-developer, InterCap Holdings, in 2011. That version of the project called for 800 units —a mix of townhomes and condominiums — and 100,000 square feet of retail to replace the developer’s 1970s-era office park at 14 Washington Road.
At the time, InterCap officials said they expected to break ground within two years, but since that time market conditions changed. In 2013 InterCap CEO Steven Goldin said that construction financing was not available for condominium developments due to the economy, and he didn’t know when that would change.
One area planning expert who was hired as a consultant in Ewing Township’s town center project told U.S. 1 in 2014 that he believed the West Windsor project would never be built as approved. He said the number of residential units was not enough to make the development economically feasible for the developer.
At some point after 2013, InterCap ceded control of the development. Marathe, who took office in January of this year, said he is unsure how or why InterCap exited the project, but that Avalon Bay will be purchasing the property.