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