60e_frontRiverview Medical Center bought the former Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home facility in July for $2.3 million.

Coming soon to East Front Street: another empty lot.

Riverview Medical Center
has asked Red Bank for a permit to demolish a longtime funeral home it bought this summer for $2.3 million and replace it with… nothing.

Tony Cava, the hospital’s vice president of strategic planning, tells redbankgreen that Riverview bought the property for its strategic location — one door east of the hospital’s dialysis center and directly opposite East Front Street from the medical center itself.

There were, and still are, no plans to use the existing structure or build something new there, he says.

So why tear down?

“We really have no use for it,” Cava says.

Maintaining the empty structure would entail heating, lighting and other costs, he said.

If the plan goes ahead, it would leave a second gaping hole on the same block. Just a few doors to the east, at the corner of East Front and Washington streets, is an empty lot left by a tear-down about three years ago.

The hospital’s initial demolition permit application was rejected by Donna Smith Barr, director of planning and zoning, because Riverview indicated it wanted to keep the surrounding asphalt parking lot. Barr told the hospital it would have to go before the zoning board for a variance because a parking lot is not a permitted use there, according to borough records.

A response letter from an attorney for Riverview says the hospital never any intention to use the lot for parking, and now asks to remove the asphalt along with the structure, obviating the need for variances. The matter is pending.

George Bowden, chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission, says the property abuts, along its southern line, the new Washington Street Historic District but is not itself subject to review by the commission.

Cava tells us that Riverview, Red Bank’s largest tax-exempt property owner, pays property taxes on the former funeral home property.

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