After five years and a massive infusion of capital, the Community YMCA has put the Children’s Cultural Center at 51 Monmouth Street up for sale, redbankgreen has learned.

Asking price: $2.55 million. That’s $145,000 less than the non-profit sank into renovations after acquiring the former Red Bank Borough Hall and police station for $1 in 2002.


The move appears to signal a surrender in the Y’s efforts to establish a thriving, education-oriented arts and entertainment hub for kids in the heart of the downtown.

“We’re not even close to covering costs on that building,” said Sean Byrnes, former Y chairman and current board member. “It’s not panning out as we thought it would.”

Byrnes said that the failure to achieve the goals of the program, which were initiated under the Kids Bridge organization prior to its merger into the Y five years ago, was disappointing.

“Nobody can argue with the mission of trying to bring more arts programs to the youth of the community,” he said. “But you have to value that against how much of your assets does it take to make it happen?”

Viewed on the basis of the number of users of the facility, Byrnes said, “it was hard to justify” continue operating it.

As reported by redbankgreen here, the center started offering adult programming and classes last fall in an effort to offset anemic attendance by children. But four or five months ago, the board began trying to privately find a partner or a buyer, and was unsuccessful.

Also weighing on the Y, Byrnes said, is that Red Bank owes the organization about $500,000, representing the town’s portion of upgrade costs to the building and the Relief Engine Fire Co. headquarters on Drummond Place, which is attached to the southwest corner of the main building. (We haven’t heard the borough’s side of this assertion yet.)

The borough-owned firehouse is not included in the sale, nor is the veterans’ memorial parcel on the corner of Monmouth and Drummond.

Now, in a declining economy, the building could prove to be a gorgeous yet hard-to-market artifact which has never generated a dime in tax revenue for the town in the 116 years since it was erected.

redbankgreen has obtained the 21-page offering package put together to market the property, which is available here: Download 51_monmouth_st..pdf

Geof Brothers, of Red Bank-based Brothers Commercial Brokerage, has the listing.

St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High School has the right of first refusal to buy the property, according to the document. RBC currently leases two floors of structure for daytime use, a lease that expires in 2009.

Monsignor Philip A. Lowery said he is unaware of any decision by the Diocese of Trenton in the matter. “That would happen way above me,” he said.

According to the document, the one-third of an acre property, near the corner of Drummond Place, would be taxed at about $28,000 a year if it were owned by a taxable entity.

The red brick Romanesque structure is architecturally unsurpassed in this region, and the Y’s remodeling resulted in a warm, brightly lit and spacious interior. It’s got 9,500 square feet of usable space, a clock tower and a neat old elevator. The cooling and heating are supplemented by an energy-efficient geothermal system.

But the site also has just five parking spaces, and a buyer would have to create more somewhere or pay up to $2,500 per space into the borough’s parking fund, depending on how the structure is used. It’s zoned for business and professional use, which also allows restaurants and food stores up to certain sizes.

There’s also this potential legal, or political, hurdle, as noted on the website of the Red Bank Visitor Center:

The Borough sold the building to The Children’s Cultural Center for $1, with the stipulation that it never be used for any other purpose.

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