At the Frenchtown NJ Planning Board Meeting on Wednesday, November, 10, 2004, George Michael, of New Hope, PA presented a concept plan for the redevelopment of the old Stout tract that is located between the Frenchtown Inn and the Odd Fellows building on Bridge Street.
The image above is a preliminary concept drawing of an ambitious redevelopment plan.
The overall plan calls for a mixed use development that includes commercial, residential, and parking areas. The 5 acre site is divided into regions that are determined by the original layout of the streets of the borough. The Labeled A, B, and C above, these areas each have their own identity and uses.
The first area of the site, marked “A” above, that fronts on Bridge Street, contains a structure that would house approximately 3 or 4 stores on the first floor, with residential units on the upper floors, and a courtyard running along the stone wall next to the Frenchtown Inn. The back section of the structure, would house more residential units on the upper floors, with parking on the street level.
The second area of the site, marked “B” above, contains two large residential structures that would run parallel to Bridge Street. These 3 or 4 story structures would be built in the style of an old factory building with high ceilinged loft condos that would contain parking garages on the ground floor for the residents of the building. This design would protect the structure in case of flooding of the Delaware River as Frenchtown just experienced a short time ago.
The third area of the site, marked “C” above, contains four private homes that would front on Third Street.
In the first portion of the meeting, George Michael presented an overview of the projects that he has been involved in over the past decade which include renovation of the Lambertville House into a 4 Star Hotel, the redevelopment of the former Union Camp factory property into a retail and cultural center, and other projects. He told a personal story of how he and his wife had always loved Frenchtown, and felt that the Stout property would be a great project for him to undertake.
In the second portion of the meeting, the floor was open to comments and questions from the residents of Frenchtown. In general the project was not well received, with a good number of neighbors of the proposed development voicing their concern about traffic problems, density, the loss of green space, pedestrian friendliness, flooding and environmental problems with the project as currently proposed. The most controversial portion of the project seems to be the two large loft structures in the middle of the plot. There was one lone voice from the public that noted that the project was an incredible opportunity for the community.