By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
On the corner of Bridge Avenue and Cedar Street sits a tan-colored, nondescript building that, if not for a couple of cars parked in the lot, could easily be mistaken for another one of Red Bank’s vacant spaces.
With just a couple of windows and minimal signage, 247 Bridge doesn’t at all look like the nerve center of an operation that might spark a transformation of the rundown area that adjoins it.
But Roger Mumford, a 54-year-old home builder who commands the happenings inside the office, has big plans for the stretch of Bridge from Cedar to Drs. James Parker Boulevard. The Little Silver resident has approvals to knock down four existing homes, plus a corner bodega, and rebuild the site from the ground up with a new bodega and five luxury homes.
You read that right. Luxury homes.
Don’t be misled by the distinction, Mumford says. Although he doesn’t yet have a price point set for the upscale home,s Mumford said similar projects elsewhere in New Jersey and New York have been filled with tenants.
“There are waiting lists,” he told redbankgreen.
His plans call for building five three- bedroom energy efficient homes with full basements, garages with carriage house doors, Norman Rockwell color schemes, Timberline roofs and hardwood floors on a corner plot that stretches from just south of Cedar Street and Bridge Avenue, and continues east along Parker. He’s also replacing the existing corner bodega, he said.
“Red Bank is going to be very pleased with what they see when this is complete,” Mumford said of the homes, which will make up a community tentatively called Lincoln Square. “And there’ll be significant demand for it.”
In his 30-year career, Mumford said, he’s been involved in more than 4,000 projects, and ‘failure’ is not on his resume. Lincoln Square, he believes, will fit well in Red Bank. He said the classic American idea of a family a married couple raising a couple of kids in a modest home is falling by the wayside.
“Housing today most new housing is still targeted for the make-believe family of husband and wife, and two or three kids. And that’s just not reality,” he said. “I have observed that people don’t necessarily need to own attractive real estate, or, for that matter, other things in life. What they want to do is have access to it. That’s one of our paradigm shifts in our society now.”
A project like the one he’s proposed, he said, attracts a broad market that, “likes the convenience, they like the mobility and they like the product.”
Mumford already has a potential indicator of that just across Bridge Avenue from his office. There, two condominium buildings he constructed are set to hit the market this week, priced from $250,000 and up per unit. He also said the credit market is very favorable to potential buyers right now.
He also said local residents favor his proposal, and that any idea that the area’s hard-working population will be displaced by the project is mistaken.
“People really respect improvement and good work,” Mumford said. “What we’re not doing is coming into an area that is a $250,000 area and building million-dollar homes. Who says less expensive has to be inferior?”
Construction on the new homes will take about a year, Mumford said, and, pending permits, will get started next month.
“You drive down here in a year, you’re going to say, ‘man, this place is great.'” Mumford said. “This is not a giant project. It’s a little niche thing, but it’s going to have a big impact.”