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Recinded

Last time we wrote about Shrewsbury Manor, the 59-unit apartment complex just east of the Molly Pitcher Inn was being prepped for shut-down.

The family-owned real estate development firm that built and still owns the complex was planning to replace it with… well, even the owner didn’t know what at the time.

All that Samantha Bowers, vice president of the could tell us then was that “the buildings have reached the end of their useful life, and so this is, unfortunately, what we have to do. It’s time to redevelop the property.”

Tenants of the 79-year-old, two-story red brick buildings got the message. Informed by letter that their leases would not be renewed beyond the end of this year, they started moving out, or making plans to do so.

So imagine their surprise last September when landlord Philip J. Bowers & Co. did a one-eighty and told the remaining tenants they could re-up for another year.

“Relieved? Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you,” said Barbara Cottrell, an 86-year-old resident. “My feet didn’t touch the floor for about a day.”

redbankgreen learned of the reversal this week when we called Samantha Bowers for an update.

Why the change? “We’re not quite ready to do what we need to do over there,” Bowers said.

And what is it you need to do?

“It’s really none of your business, to be honest with you,” she said. “But we’re planning to some sort of redevelopment. But we’re not sure exactly what yet.”

How about in broad concepts? “We have lots of different ideas, but we haven’t narrowed it down to one,” Bowers said.

The whipsaw of the two notices was felt acutely by elderly tenants such as Cottrell, who like the other residents was told of the shutdown plan last April. The level of disruption varies “according to how old you are,” she said. “If you’re old like me, then you got really upset.” She had packed up her apartment down to the canned goods in anticipation of a move when the never-mind notice arrived in September, enabling her to hang onto a unit that she loves for its spectacular views along the Navesink.

“I’m young and have a child. We’re just starting out, and knew that eventually we’d have to get a house of our own,” said Cara Tevar, a tenant for the past two years. “But there are people here who are 80, 90 years old, and they’ve been here for years. To tell an 80-year-old that they have to pick up and move, and find a new home, and they’re in rent control—that’s who I felt the worst for.”

Tenants who’d left during the pendency of the shut-down were offered a chance to return and sign one-year leases, the only term that the landlord offers, but “no one wanted to come back,” Bowers said.

The effect within the complex is not quite ghostly, but we spotted lots of of see-through units on a visit Wednesday. One tenant told us that “it seems every other apartment appears to be vacant.”

But the landlord is actually putting money into the complex, and recently upgraded the water lines, Bowers said. “We’re renovating a lot of the units, just taking our time getting them back up and rented,” she said.

“I think they’re planning on keeping it for a while,” said Tevar. “But we’re all prepared to get another letter saying they’ve changed their minds.”

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