DIAGRAM: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
The release of more details about the University’s proposed arts neighborhood south of McCarter Theatre has drawn a mixed reaction from area residents and local officials, who voiced concerns about moving the Dinky station and the project’s effect on the tax rolls.

As Princeton borough and township officials prepared to update the regional master plan, University representatives met with planning officials last month to discuss the ongoing campus planning efforts.

The arts neighborhood proposal has drawn special interest because it combines an expansion of University facilities, some limited retail space, a fresh look at the congested Alexander Road/University Place intersection, and an attempt to coordinate bus and rail service to Princeton Junction. What has been a “back door” to the town and campus could be transformed into a gateway, University planners said.

Robert Durkee ’69, vice president of the University, said moving the Dinky station 460 feet to the south is necessary to coordinate with proposed bus rapid-transit service and to allow direct access from Alexander Street to a University parking garage, which would be open to arts patrons at night. Jitney and shuttle service planned to connect to the new Dinky location should help alleviate concerns of commuters, he said.

Responding to concern that the University would be removing properties from the tax rolls, Durkee said the project includes retail and parking space that would be taxable. The University is the largest taxpayer in both the borough and the township, he noted.

The first phase of work would involve road improvements, including a new roundabout — a small traffic circle — to replace the traffic light at Alexander Street and University Place, Durkee said. A public plaza is planned for the area between the New South office building and Forbes College. Also part of the initial phase would be construction for academic programs, including faculty offices and small rehearsal and performance spaces.

The timing of other parts of the plan, including construction of an Art Museum annex on University Place and a concert hall on Alexander Street, would depend in part on fund-raising, Durkee said.