Land Deal Secures a Key Portion of the Greenbelt around Kingston and the Preservation of a Historic Resource

After more than four years of negotiation, a deal was concluded between Princeton University, the State of New Jersey, and South Brunswick Township in January, 2005 to preserve 214 acres of former Princeton Nurseries land in return for increased development rights along Route 1 and secures a key portion of a greenbelt around the village of Kingston.

The university has deeded ownership of the property to the State and/or the Township. In return, the university has received from South Brunswick the right to double the amount of office and research space it can build on 150 acres adjacent to Route 1 at some point in the next 20 years. The town has rezoned 78 acres from residential to office/conference (OC) as part of the agreement. While the University will be able to increase the amount of OC space in South Brunswick Township, it has agreed not to increase the combined total amount, 2.9 million square feet, of OC space currently allowed in both South Brunswick and Plainsboro on the former Nurseries property. The agreement also eliminates the development of 160 new residential units in South Brunswick.

As part of the negotiations, the New Jersey Green Acres Program agreed to purchase from William Flemer's Sons the core of the Princeton Nurseries Kingston Site, including several historic structures on the site. The preservation of these buildings is a significant historic cultural resource for the whole state, as well as Kingston, and an integral part of the historic landscape. This area will be operated by the state and will eventually become an interpretive and education center focusing on the history of Princeton Nurseries. Current plans are to have a State Park Historian and a State Park Naturalist housed in the former Princeton Nurseries Main Sales Office.

The two largest buildings--the former cold storage buildings--and demonstration greenhouses were saved by South Brunswick Township from demolition. The Township has agreed to refurbish them for community use. Princeton Nurseries has made a donation to help South Brunswick start this rehabilitation. South Brunswick will be responsible for maintaining the site. Approximately 140 acres will remain passive open space with trails and pathways for public use. Approximately 18 former nurseries houses will remain as private residences. Historic preservation restrictions will be placed on all the houses and other structures to remain.

by Anne Zeman, March 21, 2005