The owner of the Metropolitan condo complex now under construction on Wallace Street has acquired the Broad Street home of Murphy Style Grill, redbankgreen has learned.

Onyx Equities, a real estate investment firm based in Woodbridge, completed the $3 million purchase of 26 Broad Street last month, according to Monmouth County property records. The deal was financed by a $2.25 million loan from Commerce Bank.

Michael Nevins, vice president of asset management at Onyx, said Onyx did not acquire the restaurant itself, which he said has a long-term lease for the space. Mario Medici, owner of Murphy Style Grill, declined comment on the sale.

The transaction comes at a frothy time for the central business district.

Most prominently, Tiffany & Co. is racing to open a new store on middle Broad Street next month. Owner Larry Garmany is said to be asking $80 per square foot for two adjoining retail spaces in the former post office building that will be Tiffany’s home — roughly double the highest rate charged on Broad Street, industry people say.

Garmany is being “very particular as to who he will ‘allow’ to lease the space” as he seeks to create a mini Rodeo Drive that includes his own top-shelf clothing store next door, one real estate pro tells redbankgreen.

Anticipation of the upmarket bauble house’s arrival has also driven up retail rents in the vicinity, store owners say.

Recently, the owners of the building that was for decades homes to Prown’s household goods store and is now a Chase bank branch turned down an offer of $10.5 million — almost six times the sum they paid for the building in 2003 — and took it off the market, according to principal Mike Rovere. tested the market by offering the property at $10 million but failed to attract a buyer, we’re told. And Apple Computer, seeking a store on Broad Street from which to sell computers and iPhones, has been thwarted by facade-design considerations, we hear.

The run-up in values is one of the primary attractions for Onyx. Nevins and another Onyx official, Steven Schultz, said they see downtown Red Bank as hot and likely to get hotter as a consequence of Tiffany’s opening.

“Ours is really a strategy of acquiring properties in some of the more high-end downtowns in the state, Red Bank being one of them,” Nevins said. “We’re looking to acquire more properties in the downtown.”

Wood framing of the second- through fourth floors of the Metropolitan, which has a steel-frame first floor, is now underway, and the project is on track for a spring opening, Schultz says. Prices start in the $600,000s for the 37 luxury condos, which will be above stores and businesses.

“It’s a ‘barriers-to-entry’ market,” says Schultz. “You really don’t have that many opportunities” to build residential space in the downtown, which is an in-demand location among professionals with a yen for urban living. “We like that,” he adds.

The firm has holdings in Jersey City and Ridgewood in Bergen County. It recently completed and sold out a 25-unit conversion of a former JCP&L building in Asbury Park dubbed Asbury Grand, and is selling units for another luxury project in Asbury called The Blu.

Nevins confirmed that Onyx and Pyramid Properties, which is building the Metropolitan, have common principals.

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