PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Want a free house?
Princeton University has one waiting, but with a catch: you have to lug it away.
The school is giving away seven now-shuttered homes — some more than 150 years old — it needs to demolish or move as part of a project to build a new train station and a pair of arts buildings.
Most of the homes boast charming period details including exterior scroll moulding, arched windows and brick fireplaces. But to say they're fixer-uppers is an understatement.
The walls and floors have already been stripped to ready the homes for moving or demolition. In one, a long-forgotten coffee cup sits on a wall beam. Insulation peeks out from gaps in the wood siding on another home, a porch light hanging askew above. Debris is strewn about a peach and seafoam green floral couch in a living room. Electrical wires dangle from the roof of one home that's missing siding, the bare wood below exposed.
They are not, Princeton spokesman Martin A. Mbugua noted, "in move-in condition."
And if they're not gone by April 30, the only direction they're going is down.
That's the deadline under plans for the $300 million Arts and Transit Project, which will also move a heavily trafficked convenience store, add parking for commuters and construct a public plaza. Opponents sued the town and university over the project earlier this month but the school said it was expecting the lawsuit and construction shouldn't be affected.
It should come as no surprise in a state with some of the highest home prices in the nation that there has been intense interest in getting a free home. Mbugua said the university has received more than 400 calls and emails from people intrigued by the idea of a complimentary home.
The inquiries have come from as far away as Haiti, Mbugua said.