Phs prc

The owner of the Atrium at Navesink Harbor, center, wants to add six stories to a planned addition, and to use the lot in the foreground for parking. Riverview Towers is at right; the addition is to go between the two highrises.

Before it has even put a shovel into the ground for a long-delayed six-story addition, PHS Senior Living is asking Red Bank for permission to double the size of the planned project on Riverside Avenue.

If approved, the addition-to-the-addition would boost a portion of the new structure to the same height as the nonprofit's existing 12-story tower of high-end senior apartments, formerly known as Navesink Harbor and recently retagged the Atrium at Navesink Harbor.

To sweeten its request for variances, Princeton-based PHS is promising not to build an approved office building on a triangular site at the intersection of Riverview Avenue and West Front Street, according to Chuck Mooney, PHS's chief operating officer. Instead, the lot would be used for parking.

The plans, though, may meet resistance from residents of neighboring Riverview Towers. Shareholders in the luxury highrise co-op are scheduled to meet tonight to decide whether to give the PHS request their blessing.

PHS's plans were filed with the borough planning office last Thursday, and no determination has yet been made on what variances will be required. Planning director Donna Smith Barr says the ordinance that governs the Waterfront Development zone in which the Atrium is located is complex, as height limits are contingent on the distance to and height of nearby structures, slopes toward the river and other variables.

The proposed Atrium addition would be graduated in height, from 12 stories nearest Riverside Avenue down to six
stories nearest the Navesink River, according to a PHS officials. It was designed, says Mooney, to minimize its adverse impact on Riverview Towers.

Still, Manny Carabel, a member of the Riverview Towers board, says he and other board members came away from a presentation earlier this month by PHS officials, including CEO Gary Puma of Shrewsbury, with reservations. He said there were concerns about how the taller structure would affect views and natural light on the west side of their building. 

"We're not too happy about it," Carabel tells redbankgreen. "We want to be good neighbors, but to go to 12 stories, some of our residents would be affected."

Carabel is an alternate member of the zoning board and says he would have to recuse himself from that body's deliberations on the PHS filing.

PHS's already approved six-story addition was to go into the ground starting in August, and that date would be unaffected by an approval of the latest request, according to Mooney. No reengineering would be required, he says.

If approved, the larger structure would contain 84 residential and skilled nursing units, up from 60 in the approved portion.

Mooney says PHS has an option on the vacant triangular lot across the street, formerly used by a car dealership and now owned by Mack Cali Realty.

The lot has approvals for a three-story office building, dubbed Red Bank Corporate Plaza II, which was to have been the companion to a new structure on the opposite side of West Front Street.

But a collapse in the real estate market generally — and particulary the woes of Hovnanian Enterprises, which was to have rented most of the first phase but backed out — have left the completed building largely empty and Mack Cali sitting on plans for the second structure. [CORRECTION: A Mack-Cali spokeswoman says Hovnanian did not back out of its lease on the first building and is paying rent for the entire structure.]

Instead, PHS plans to use the parcel as a 104-space parking lot for its residents and their guests. The lot would be landscaped, and some of the spaces would be reserved for a valet service available to the Atrium's well-heeled retirees, whose average age is about 84 years old, Mooney says.

Asked if PHS was taking the the proposed office building off the table permanently if the parking lot is approved, Mooney says, "that's correct."

No hearing date for the zoning board has yet been scheduled.

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