The interior of 30 Maclean St., a new 10-unit apartment property at the former site of a historic meeting house in Princeton — Courtesy: JZA+D
By Joshua Burd
A local architect is touting the conversion of a historic building in Princeton to a new 10-unit residential property, bringing much-needed housing to the university town.
The design firm, JZA+D, said the project at 30 Maclean St. is a mixed-income rental offering that employs best practices in green building. The practice worked on behalf of the developer, Princeton Maclean LLC, to transform what was a longtime meeting house for organizations such as a local chapter of the Masonic Order.
“Our goal was to introduce much-needed new residential units, including two earmarked for affordable income housing, while also preserving a locally iconic building, in a way that venerates the classic distinction of this historic neighborhood,” said Joshua Zinder, managing partner of Princeton-based JZA+D. “At the same time, we wanted to act responsibly and make 30 Maclean a sustainable experience for residents and neighbors.”
Originally built in 1924, the former Aaron Lodge No. 9 Masonic temple and meeting house holds significance for the neighborhood and for Princeton’s African-American community, Zinder said. Its conversion follows a two-year process of public hearings and meetings with community members, during which the firm obtained approval to repurpose the 7,600-square-foot structure while preserving its authentic character.
JZA+D worked with Princeton Maclean LLC, general contractor ML7 Construction & Design and project managers J3 Management to ease the construction process during New Jersey’s stay-at-home orders, according to a news release. Deemed essential by state guidelines, construction continued at a reduced pace in recent months, as strict social distancing was enforced on the job site to minimize contact and possible transmission.
The finished product includes 10 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units ranging in size from 500 to 1,200 square feet, with high-end finishes and appliances. Monthly rents for the market-rate units range from $1,975 to $4,150, with two affordable housing units priced in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines.
Zinder further noted that the exterior facade, defined by stucco and brick, has been restored to maintain its historic appearance and charm.
The building also incorporates several sustainable design elements, such as high-efficiency mechanical systems and fixtures, an elevator tower with bicycle storage and landscaping with new trees and plantings. The project is being targeted for gold-level certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design scale.
“Restoring a historic property of this nature is an elaborate task,” Zinder said. “Our goal was to bring new life and use to Aaron Lodge No. 9 as quickly as possible, while ensuring optimally safe working conditions during the construction process, given the unprecedented circumstances.”
Located in the town’s Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District, the building is within walking distance of the dining, shopping and entertainment offerings of downtown Princeton.