FROM THE DWEKAGE: 7 BROAD SOLD

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A Broad Street building with one of downtown Red Bank’s most distinctive facades has been sold and is about to undergo a makeover, redbankgreen has learned.

The property, at number 7 Broad, near the intersection with Front Street, sold last month for $2.2 million to a Westport, Conn. partnership of David Ross and Richard Becker.

“We intend to fix up the building,” Ross tells redbankgreen. “It needs some aesthetic improvements and construction improvements.”

Marked for removal are the steel-frame archway and exterior stairwell that dominate an open-air recess, Ross says.

The sale is yet another sign of outsider money jostling for stakes in the volatile downtown market, which is about to hit a new level with this week’s opening of the Tiffany & Co. store on middle Broad. In September, 26 Broad, which is home to Murphy Style Grill, changed hands, with a Woodbridge outfit paying $3 million. And the owners of the former Prown’s Hardware space at 32-34 Broad, now home to a Chase bank branch, last month 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. are said to have tried and failed to unload the property for $10 million.

Img_7957A rendering of 7 Broad is taped to the inside of a store window.

“We like the character of the town, we like the look of the town, the feel of the town, and we love the people,” Ross says, adding that the partners are interested in acquiring more property here.

He and his partner are talking to several national chains that have expressed interest in the space, Ross says, but he declined to name them.

The property has been tied up for months in the bankruptcy of Solomon Dwek, an Ocean Township man who in recent years rapidly amassed an empire of some 350 properties, mostly in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Many of the deals are the subject of fraud and forgery lawsuits.

The building has been vacant since the departure of basement tenant Down to Earth, a vegetarian restaurant last year (yep, the link still works). The street level retail space, which was home to various clothing stores over the years, has been empty far longer.

Ross says the most obvious change to the building appearance will be to the arched recess, which is widely, and mistakenly, assumed to date back to the late 19th or early 20th century, when the structure was erected. In fact, the recess, like the one a few doors away, was the work of Red Bank architect Jerome Morley Larson, who also used exterior stairs on The Bluffs, the residential project next door to Riverside Gardens Park on West Front Street.

“We may be getting rid of that ’70s look,” Ross tells redbankgreen.

Architect Stephen Raciti has been engaged for the job, Ross says.

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