GRAND OPENING: The high-end rental apartments at Nelson Glass House, the former home of the Nelson Glass business, are finally complete after a three-year process. The building is shown here in a rendering by JZA+D architects.
By Anne Levin
Three years have passed since Robbie Nelson hired Princeton-based architect Joshua Zinder to transform Nelson Glass, the long-standing Spring Street family business, into high-end apartments. Between COVID-19, material changes, and some design changes, creating Nelson Glass House took longer than Nelson anticipated.
But all six apartments — all rented except for one designated affordable unit — are ready, and Nelson invites the public on Friday, June 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. to take a look. Units range from $4,000 to $8,000 per month.
“It’s a boutique life,” Nelson said. “All units have balconies. It’s unique, and it’s very upscale.
Opening doors to the public is part of being a good neighbour. “I felt there were a lot of people who had been going back and forth for a long time and were curious about what we were doing,” she said. “It was important for me to let them in. I wanted the neighbors to be able to see it. I know I always wonder what the interior looks like.
Nelson Glass was founded in 1949 by Nelson’s late father, who also owned the house next door. Instead of selling, she chose to turn the two buildings into rental housing. The process was enlightening.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Nelson said this week. “Josh Zinder has created a design that is unique and special, but also very intricate. These are not cookie-cutter apartments. Every unit is different. Every unit has a different layout. We ended up making a few changes on the way of road, including indoors, due to what we thought the market would want.
The project went from steel to wood. “It resulted in huge savings in steel, but that was kind of offset by the cost of time spent creating new plans. Then there was COVID, supply shortages and all those other things that created a real challenge,” Nelson said. “But all the tenants stayed with us. In fact, we had rented the penthouse last May for a September opening – that’s how late But everyone hung on and now we’re good to go. People are moving in on the 15th.”
There are six units in the newly configured building and two in the neighboring house. Units range in size from one bedroom and one bath to two bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a powder room (the penthouse). Tenants have parking spaces, some of which are covered; some of which are stacked (one in front of the other).
Nelson originally planned to relocate her business to the first floor of the building when it was completed, but she decided to stay in West Windsor. The 2,000 square foot retail space is now occupied by Illy Coffee Shop. In the back, a private cigar club called At Earth’s End is located. Nelson describes it as “a place to go for a drink, no TV, no sports, strictly conversation; a bit like the Explorers’ Club in New York.
Homestead Princeton is staging some of the apartments for the June 10 open house (a private opening gala was scheduled for June 1).
Nelson’s last name will be on a cornerstone – with his father’s name and the date of the original business, next to his name and the date of the reconfigured building. “It’s very special to me,” she said. “It sends a real message to little girls that they can follow in their family’s footsteps and really do something special.”