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Two new stores may occupy Woolworth's space

Better label those parkas: the prospect of even more North Face jackets on campus just got bigger.

Within the next thirty days, Princeton Borough's Historic Pres-ervation Committee will review the final application filed by Woolworth's parent company to bring a Colorado store and a Foot Locker to the former site of the discount chain store, Zoning Officer Frank Slimak said.

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Woolworth and Company Inc. owns Colorado – an outdoor clothing chain – and Foot Locker.

Last month, Jeff Clark, an architect with WJCA Inc., submitted a "preliminary application" for review, proposing changes in the facade of 116 Nassau St. and the formation of two separate store fronts. Slimak sent the application back to the architect with his comments and suggestions.

The committee's review of the final application will "ensure that (Woolworth) won't create something that's inappropriate," Slimak said.

Any structure built in the borough's historic district – the area from Moore Street to Bank Street – must meet the approval of the committee, he added.

The committee's main concern is that the "building remains compatible with the Neo-Colonial style of the 1920s and '30s," Borough Mayor Marvin Reed said.

"Woolworth's is a current exhibit at the Historical Society. The building is cited as an example of commercial architecture of Neo-Colonial tradition," Reed added.

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The committee will make certain that Woolworth "is not going to make Colorado look like the side of Pike's Peak," Reed said. "But anything they put in is better than the empty store that now occupies the site. It won the 'Ugliest Store' prize in the annual Christmas decorating contest."

After the committee reviews the final application and Woolworth obtains a building permit, the success of the store is at the mercy of consumers.

The Foot Locker and Colorado stores "will not be as popular as the variety store" that previously occupied the site," Reed predicted. "Woolworth's had a real student following," he added.

"Princeton was one of the best locations" in the Woolworth's chain, he said. "But regardless of how successful it was, (Woolworth's) closed all variety stores" in the chain.

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Even though there is already a Foot Locker store in the Quakerbridge Mall and one at Princeton Marketfair!, Reed said he did not detect concern in Woolworth's corporate leadership.

"Downtown Princeton has a strong customer base – students, people who work in downtown stores, weekend visitors. People are attracted by the kind of shops we have. We're not just a run-of-the-mill town," Reed added.

The Nickel, a store that specializes in outdoor clothing and equipment in the Princeton Shopping Center, said it is prepared for the new competition posed by Colorado.

"The Nickel has more resources, more stores and an established reputation on how good our products are," said Nickel employee Dorian D'Ottavio.

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