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Grocery chain considers move to present Borough library site

Independents may be able to shop for their groceries in town again. Palmer Square Management has raised the possibility that a grocery store may open on the present site of the Princeton Public Library, which is considering a move into a new building on Hulfish Street, near the Baptist church.

According to an article in the Princeton Packet, Jim McCaffrey, owner and president of McCaffrey's grocery store chain, has said he might be interested in opening a store on the library's current site at Witherspoon and Paul Robeson Place.


The moves have not yet been approved and would take several years to implement. A committee, including representatives from the Borough, Township, library board and Palmer Square Management, has only begun to discuss the issues. A decision should be made within six months, said Jackie Thresher, executive director of the public library. The new library building would then be constructed on the Palmer Square-owned land on Hulfish Street, she added.

` Talk of the new grocery store comes in the wake of the January closing of Davidson's Supermarket at 255 Nassau St. The closing left students and residents without a grocery store in walking distance and McCaffrey's, in the Princeton Shopping Center on North Harrison Street, is the closest store to downtown Princeton.

Central store

The Packet reported that David Newton, vice president of Palmer Square Management, has approached McCaffrey's about opening a store at the current library site. According to Borough Mayor Marvin Reed, the food store would occupy the ground floor of a taller office building.

"I think (a new grocery store is) something that should be investigated," Newton told the Packet. "I think downtown needs something like that. The central part of town would be ideal for that use."

Although many in the Borough would welcome a new grocery, some are worried that the parking spaces already in place would be inadequate to support the new store, Thresher said. He added that parking at the library is already insufficient.

For the last five years, the library has considered different options for renovations, Thresher said. One option is an expansion of the building, doubling the size of the current library.


The library announced Feb. 23 that it had begun discussing the possible move with the Palmer Square Management Company. Since the land is owned by Palmer Square Management, but has not been developed, Thresher said she is hopeful that moving from the library's prominent site on Witherspoon would not lower its profile.

"I think part of the challenge would be to design in a way that would be prominent," she said. "We could find an architectural solution that would be very exciting."

A surprising number of students use the public library. Thresher said 706 undergrads have library cards, in addition to 687 graduate students and 520 faculty and staff members. She added that others may join them at the public library for popular reading, magazines and newspapers while using University libraries for research. Thresher said students also volunteer at an after-school tutoring program held at the library.

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