Store planners urged to avoid ‘boxy’ design

East Windsor board reviews proposal for Village Shopping Center

Michael Arges
   EAST WINDSOR — Several members of the Planning Board expressed concerned at Monday night’s board meeting about the “boxy” appearance of the proposed Target Department store, which prompted one member to compare it to “a prison.”
   “I feel strongly about approving another monolithic, mediocre design,” Skip Berman, board vice chairman, said.
   The discussion occurred during the ongoing review of plans for the East Windsor Village Shopping Center, proposed for construction on Princeton-Hightstown Road (Route 571) between One Mile Road and Lanning Boulevard. Following the discussions, representatives of the developer promised to discuss the concerns with architects for the store.
   In response to previous discussions with the board, the developers of the shopping center, East Windsor Shopping Center Associates, proposed increasing the number of trees planted in front of the Target Store in order to relieve the somewhat stark appearance of the building. They shifted their plan from a tree planted every 100 feet to a tree every 50 feet.
   However, Daniel Dobromilsky, a landscape architect who serves as a consultant for the Planning Board, voiced concern that the proposed planting provided too little soil for the trees to keep healthy. Instead of the 4-foot-by-4-foot planter suggested by developers, Mr. Dobromilsky insisted that each tree needs at least 200 square feet of soil. He also suggested that, in addition to the planned hardwood trees, that there be some evergreen landscaping to “soften” the appearance of the building during the winter months. The hardwood trees will be “sticks” six months out of the year, he said.
   Developers promised to return to the Planning Board April 3 with a revised landscaping plan that would respond to board concerns.
   They also will provide additional details about lighting for the shopping center and the results of conversations with Target store architects about the store’s exterior design.