By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Through an entity called LLC 36 Broad Street, Rumson resident Michael Morgan paid $1.5 million on July 1 for the three-story building at 36 Broad, according to Monmouth County property records.
Morgan, who through another LLC also owns 58-64 Broad, home to Hip & Humble Home and several other stores, could not be reached for comment on his plans for the structure, which features about 2,000 square feet of ground-floor store space.
But the sale signals a potential new start for a jewel property at the heart of downtown, where high-profile vacancies that troubled the district in recent years have begun to be filled, and rumors of deals at others fill the air.
Red Bank commercial real estate broker Geoff Brothers said the transaction adds to an unlikely current of activity in town. Dealmaking tends to drop off in summer, he said, but recently there’s been an upswing.
The fourth floor of the former Nazmiyal Rug Decor building at 12 Broad was recently leased, he said. And on the third floor above Urban Outfitters, high-frequency securities trading firm Tradeworx recently signed on to lease some 8,500-square-feet of space.
“We’re getting a little more activity, which is unusual,” Brothers said.
Is the building’s sale a good sign at the street level?
Yes, said Broad Street jeweler Alan Fisher of A.H. Fisher Diamonds. “But it would be a better thing if it was occupied by someone other than a jeweler,” he said.
Ballew Jewelers moved out in January, ending a continual string of ownership through two related families that began in 1886, when Reussille Jewelers opened downtown. Owner Leon de la Reussille moved his shop to 36 Broad, then known as the Blumenberg Building, in 1902, according to local historian Randall Gabrielan.
James Ballew’s grandmother, Sarah Ballew, took over the business in 1930, though the Reussille name was maintained for many years, and the Victorian clock outside the store still bears the Reussille name in its ornate frame.
Ballew Jewelers still has stores in Freehold and Sea Girt.