U. offers houses to those willing to move them
“This is an opportunity for people who might want to preserve or use the houses elsewhere. It originated with questions a few years ago about what would happen to the structures,” University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said.
So far, the University has received inquiries about the homes from “as far [away] as California and Haiti,” Mbugua noted.
Nevertheless, the feasibility of commencing the relocation is largely unknown. An employee of Michael Anthony Contracting of Monmouth County explained that the cost of moving the homes would depend upon the age and size of the structure as well as its final destination, and that very few contractors in the area have the insurance necessary to lift these buildings. Mbugua said that the houses would need “significant work before anyone can live in them.”
Both the University and the town of Princeton have experience relocating similar buildings, according to Kip Cherry, a resident who said she was deeply invested in preserving the “historic fabric” of her community.
“Whatever will work that provides an opportunity for these houses to remain in existence is a good thing. Of course, I would love to see the University participating in their relocation if they could,” Cherry said.
In some previous instances, the University has undertaken relocation itself, as was the case in 1963 when Corwin Hall was moved using rail lines to allow for the construction of Robertson Hall.
Cherry suggested that the homes be transported en masse to the basin property owned by the University at the far end of Alexander Street so that they can remain in the community. The University could then make the homes available to faculty members or staff at a reduced mortgage rate, she said.
“There may be some environmental issues,” Cherry noted, but it would “at least be a place to evaluate the potential for relocation.”
According to Mbugua, no such alternate plans are being discussed by the University at this time.
Wherever the houses are transported or however they are removed from the land, the Arts and Transit project is expected to “proceed as planned,” Mbugua explained. “Either way, the houses will still give way for the Arts and Transit project … that hasn’t changed and will not change.”
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