With its distinctive architectural style, The George cuts a unique shape in the skyline of the transitioning Theatre District neighborhood of New Brunswick, N.J. The design was shaped by the reaction to the landmark Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, which limited the amount of land Philadelphia-based Pennrose could devote to the 20 percent affordable project.
That reaction left Tim Henkel, senior vice president of development for Pennrose, with a challenge—how to make The George a viable development on a smaller, quarter-acre site. Pennrose went back to the city and received an extra two floors, pushing the building up to 12 stories. And, in what turned out to be a prescient move, the developer changed its unit mix, going from half one- and half two-bedrooms to a majority of one-bedrooms. “In the years that immediately followed, we saw the market go in that direction [of one-bedrooms],” Henkel says.
But the most visible impact may have been what Henkel calls the “step-in, step-out” frontage. “We really needed to use the lot dimensions,” he says. “It has become one of the real attractive features of the architecture. That’s a positive by-product of that challenge.”
The window design also gave residents who live along the front of the building an impressive perk. “Each corner has a neat effect,” Henkel says. “As opposed to a living room with one wall of glass, every living room on that side has two walls of glass.”
Pennrose also overcame challenges posed by the Great Recession; remediation problems from a site that had been home to a dry cleaner; and the inability to build parking on site. “It has been absolutely perfectly absorbed by the market,” Henkel says. “It has really been exciting. This project took a long time finding its moment.”