The building was shut down by the borough government as uninhabitable in 2007. The more recent photo was taken last month.
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
It was, for a long time, a tilting eyesore on West Front Street.
People were afraid to walk by it out of fear of it tumbling down on them, neighbors say. It was caving in on itself and deemed unfit for occupancy by the borough. It was a ramshackle, dilapidated, all-around derelict.
A redbankgreen reader dubbed it the ‘Slanty Shanty.’
But that tiny building that once blighted the area of 214 West Front is no longer a beaten down mess of brick and mortar.
Workers armed with power tools and concrete have been seen outside the Slanty Shanty in recent weeks to whip the eyesore into eye candy.
The listed owners of the building, Red Bank-based Matrixx, Inc., have been silent on the project and haven’t returned numerous phone calls from redbankgreen. According to borough planning officer Donna Smith Barr, the intention is to return the structure to its former use, a hair salon.
Thomas Kakos’ Salon Thanos was the tenant at the time the borough ordered it vacated as unsafe in August, 2007. It’s been empty ever since.
More recently, a February borough memo described the building as in danger of collapsing. And a recent structural survey report by a contractor showed that the building’s roof was sagging and the eave was “fairly deteriorated.” The report also showed that the west wall leaned 5.8 percent toward the alley and one of the pilasters had a severe crack that separated it from the rest of the structure.
The shanty also has a recent history of rotating owners. Before being taken over by Matrixx, the building changed hands several times, but most recently was owned by Solomon Dwek, the onetime real-estate mogul who was exposed this summer as an FBI informant in one of the state’s largest corruption stings.
Folks who work in the surrounding arts and antiques district say they’re happy to finally see the building restored.
“It’s definitely been an eyesore. It’s nice to see something done with it,” said Riley Schiro, who has looked at the shack for the year-and-a-half he’s worked at an antiques store across West Front. “It’s in much better shape now.”
“It’s 110 percent improved from what it was,” said Bruce Eglend, who works next door at the Antique Center of Red Bank. “Whoever’s working on it has done a phenomenal job.”
Now, Eglend says, there aren’t so many people taking cover as they walk the sidewalk.
“Nobody wanted to walk by,” he said. “I though it was going to fall into the alley at some point it was so bad.”