Princeton Music Gets a $10 Million Boost


This aerial photograph shows progress on the arts complex construction site as of mid March 2015. (Photo by Aerial Photos of New Jersey)

This aerial photograph shows progress on the arts complex construction site as of mid March 2015. (Photo by Aerial Photos of New Jersey)

A Princeton University alumnus and his wife have anonymously donated $10 million for the 23,000-square-foot music building in the new arts complex currently under construction, university officials said Monday.

While the identity of the donors is currently being withheld at the request of the couple, the music building will eventually be named for the donors, the university said.

“This splendid gift will benefit our student musicians and the audiences who come to hear them,” President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement. “The additional space is an essential element in enabling our arts initiative — launched less than a decade ago — to flourish. We are excited about seeing the arts at Princeton reach their full potential, and we are grateful to our generous alumni and friends for helping to make it possible.”

The music building at the $330 million arts and transit project will be home to the university’s Department of Music and the Lewis Center for the Arts. The building will “meet the urgent need for space and bring student musicians — and the music they create — to the south edge of the campus,” according to the university’s announcement.

The three-story building will include a performance and rehearsal space, acoustically advanced practice rooms and teaching studios, and a digital recording studio. Also under construction at the site are the Wallace Dance Building and Theater, and a Tower that will house faculty and administrative offices and an art gallery.

The anonymous donor was quoted in the announcement saying: “When my wife and I visited campus and witnessed the engagement, curiosity and passion of so many students in so many areas of arts study, the decision to be a part of the team in promoting the arts at Princeton was an easy one.”

From Mayfair to Palmer Square: Self-Described “Corporate Vagabonds” at Home in Princeton

via Linda Arntzenius/Town Topics

2014-07-23_11-59-35As President of ME Global, a global chemical company headquartered in London, England, Dan Scheid and his wife Mary Beth Scheid enjoyed a lifestyle at the center of a bustling city. They lived in Mayfair, in Shepherd’s Market to be precise, and Dan could walk to work. “It was wonderful, my office was right opposite St. James’s Palace,” recalled Dan in a telephone interview from the West Coast where the couple were hiking two hours outside of Seattle before traveling on to Ashville, North Carolina, to visit the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Easy access to everything their environment had to offer was what they were looking for when Dan retired in 2006 and the couple moved back to the United States.

They found it in Philadelphia, in a row house in Center City where, said Mary Beth, they fully expected to stay. But after their daughter Clancy married Princeton professor, David August, the Scheids found themselves spending more and more time in Princeton. The draw had much to do with their three grandchildren Betty, 4, Josie, 2, and Danny, 7 months. The Scheids plans for the future changed.

The Scheids moved into the Residences at Palmer Square in September 2010.

Besides family, one other consideration prompted their choice. Mobility. “We loved our four-story row house in center city, but we realized that mobility and stairs would one day become an issue for us,” said Dan. Even so, they had thought to move to a more convenient home in Philadelphia — until they saw the new steel and concrete construction of luxury multi-story town homes and expansive single-level condominiums taking shape in the center of Princeton.

“As soon as the new residences became available, we were the first ones knocking on the door,” said Dan. “The promise of living in the center of downtown Princeton and being able to walk to everything was very enticing. It was similar to everything we liked about center city.”

Impressed by what they saw, the Scheids walked though numerous homes in various stages of construction and got a good look at the bone structure of each residence.

Their three-story town home on Chambers Street, which also has a basement, is “everything we had hoped for,” said Dan. “Downtown Princeton offers a best-of-both-worlds living environment that few places can match. There’s the ease of a comfortable, small-town existence, but it is coupled with an urban vibrancy and international presence that you usually can’t find outside a big city. Princeton also has the advantage of being convenient to both Philadelphia and New York City. And The Residences at Palmer Square enjoy the best location in Princeton without question. We regularly attend the McCarter Theatre and Princeton University Art Museum, and love being able to walk to all of the restaurants and shops within Palmer Square and around town.”

The Scheids embraced the idea of living in a new-construction home. “The floor plan of the Palmer Square townhome was strikingly similar to our row house, including compatible design details and a classical layout, but with clear advantages,” Dan pointed out. “A brand new home compared to an 1830s building means more efficient space, improved energy efficiency, and fewer maintenance issues.”

And an elevator that takes them right into their apartment will give them the mobility they were concerned about when the time comes. Dan, 66, and Mary Beth, 65, are fit and physically active. They enjoy ballroom dancing at the Suzanne Patterson Center, traveling, music.

Both hail from Jackson, Michigan, where they went to the same high school. “Mary Beth and I met as freshmen; Mary Beth’s older brother was my best friend,” recalled Dan. Their son, Charles, lives in San Francisco and their daughter, Anna, in Amherst, Massachussetts.

The Scheids have made an effort to become part of the community, Dan serves as a trustee of the Historical Society of Princeton. “Being a part of the community was important to us and gave us a reason to make the move now when we are still young and active rather than later,” he said.

One of the best things Mary Beth has found in Princeton is the Newcomers and Friends Club run by the Princeton YWCA, which has about 200 members and serves as an excellent conduit for those new to the town. “I do one activity with the group at least once a week and we have met a lot of couples this way,” she said.

 Princeton Living

Besides access to their growing family, living in Princeton offers other benefits. They find the cost of living in Princeton to be much less than they experienced in London. “It’s comparable to center city Philadelphia.” said Dan. “The big difference in living here is substantially higher taxes of all sorts, property taxes, income and sales taxes combined compared to Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania. But when it comes to normal living expenses and food, costs are much the same.1

Located on Paul Robeson Place between Chambers and Witherspoon Streets, The Residences at Palmer Square complete a development project begun by Edgar Palmer in 1937. The new homes were designed along the lines of a European-style town square that would include shops, restaurants and residences. The brick Federal style exteriors are designed to complement existing buildings.

According to a press release, the residential community offers custom interior features and appointments including private elevators, 9- and 10-foot high ceilings and tray ceilings, extensive millwork, fireplaces with marble hearths, pocket doors and elegant crown moldings. Gourmet kitchens have maple cabinets, granite countertops, and Viking stainless steel appliances; spa-like master baths feature whirlpool tubs, double sinks, glass showers, and marble countertops. Many of the homes have their own terraces and there are landscaped promenades, courtyards, and common outdoor areas. There is also indoor parking for residents.

There are 32 different floor plans from two- and three-bedroom, single-level flats, to two- and three-bedroom, multi-level townhouses.

The single level flats have between 1,623 and 4,130 square feet of living space; the townhomes have between 2,622 and 3,084 square feet. The flats range in price from $1.245 to $3.4 million; the townhomes from $1.775 to $2,195 million.

A limited number of rental residences are also available, with two- and three-bedroom floor plans ranging from 1,623 to 3,195 square feet of living space monthly rents starting at S4.800.

For more information on The Residences at Palmer Square, call (609) 924-3884, or visit


Palmer Square by the Numbers

via Diccon Hyatt/ US1

Palmer Square Townhomes Exterior SMALLPopulation. Palmer Square, with just 100 dwelling units in the newly completed Residences section and 124 units — mostly smaller ones — in the original 1930s development above the retail stores, will comprise just a small fraction of the Princeton population. But those folks will be surrounded by good company. The former Princeton Borough and Township, recently consolidated into one municipal entity, had a combined 28,572 population in the 2010 census.

The former Princeton Borough was one of the wealthiest locations in the state, according to the 2010 census, with a median income of $104,000.

Property Taxes: The average Princeton homeowner pays about $15,000 a year in property taxes, according to the state Department of Community Affairs. The taxes on one of the recently sold Residences at Palmer Square, priced at the low end of the scale, were just over $18,000.

Transportation: The whole point of living in Palmer Square is that most things you would want to go to are within walking distance — except a full-service supermarket. But a specialty market, D’Angelo Italian Market at 35 Spring Street, can be counted on for the emergency carton of eggs or quart of milk.

Even though Princeton University’s new arts neighborhood adjacent to McCarter Theater has forced the relocation of the Dinky train station 400 feet further away from Nassau Street, it is still within walking distance. Once there the Dinky is a link to the railroad’s main line and, yes, the world.

Inevitably, though, a car will be a necessity in a town like Princeton. The Residences at Palmer Square all have either direct access to a parking garage, or elevator access. Parking itself is another added cost: $170 per month.

Dining. Palmer Square and nearby Witherspoon Street is one of Princeton’s two restaurant rows (the other is four blocks east on Nassau Street, a short walk). Right next to the square, on Witherspoon Street, is the Witherspoon Grill, Agricola, Mezzaluna (a BYOB venue), and the Alchemist & Barrister. An Indian restaurant, Masala (also BYOB), is located just a few doors up Chambers Street from the front doors of the new Residences units.

In the heart of the square are Mediterra, Teresa’s Caffe, and the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, the dining room of the Nassau Inn. Palmer Square boasts two highly regarded wine stores, Corkscrew on Hulfish Street and Cool Vines, just off Witherspoon on Spring Street, as well as two highly regarded dessert destinations, Thomas Sweet Chocolate and the Bent Spoon, a gourmet ice cream shop.

Such is the draw of Palmer Square as a dining destination that Steve Distler, the owner of Mistral, the new tapas-style restaurant on Hulfish Street at the corner of Witherspoon, is now considering relocating his highly acclaimed Elements restaurant from its location on Bayard Lane (a drive away) to a space next to Mistral, putting it all into one very walkable location.

Entertainment. High arts and culture are always on display at the McCarter Theater, also within walking distance. There is no escaping intellectualism even at the movies, since the town movie theater, the Princeton Garden Theater on Nassau Street, tends to play films that do not feature giant robots or talking animals. (It is currently showing “12 Years a Slave” and two different indie movies about Palestine.)

Two of the town’s most vibrant cultural hubs, the Arts Council of Princeton and the Princeton Public Library, are virtually across the street from the Residences at Palmer Square.

Education: While most of the residences in Palmer Square were not designed with children in mind, those who end up living there will be within a short distance of a wealth of academic possibilities.

Private schools within a few miles include Princeton Day School, Stuart Country Day School and the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, the Hun School, the Princeton Friends School, the Chapin School, the Waldorf School, and the Lewis School. The Lawrenceville School, where Saudi Arabian princes on occasion have sent their children to be educated, is a short drive down Route 206.

The public schools serve about 3,500 students in four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Princeton High’s average SAT scores of 1884 (as of 2013) put it among the top-ranked schools in the state. About 91 percent of graduates enrolled in a four-year college, with another 8.4 percent in two-year colleges. In 2013 the number of students scoring 3 or above on AP exams was 1,173. In 2012 the school had 20 National Merit Scholars and 44 winners of letters of commendation.

According to the district’s website, the student population is so diverse that more than 50 languages are spoken at home including Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Korean, German, Polish, Dutch, Danish, Hungarian, Burmese, Hebrew, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Twenty-two percent of the public school’s students claim one of 55 languages other than English as their first language.

All this helps explain why Palmer Square has gone out of its way to market its residences to buyers from abroad, including Asia (see main story, page 32). The builders of the Residences didn’t build it with the Chinese market in mind, but now that it exists, they are certainly going to explore it.

Says Adrienne Albert, CEO of Marketing Directors, the firm marketing the Residences at Palmer Square: “When you see a trend, you jump on it.”