METROVATION KILLS ANDERSON PROJECT

The developer has officially abandoned its approval for condos in the former West Side warehouse – temporarily serving as a display location in the ‘Heads’ outdoor art installation – but plans a “creative” repurposing of the site, says a partner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Anderson building and the West Side lofts: they were to have been fraternal twins anchoring nearby corners in Red Bank, injecting an instant, upmarket demographic into a part of town that could use a nudge to reach its potential as an arts and nightlife mecca.

Now, however, as one half of that twosome finally nears an official start, the other one has been nixed.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the borough zoning board, developer Metrovation officially abandoned its six-year-old approval for 23 condos and two street-level stores in the former Anderson Brothers Moving and Storage structure at Bridge Avenue and Monmouth Street, citing poor economic conditions.

At the same time, company officials sought, and won, a minor lot-line change that they said would enhance whatever new plan might follow.

“We just haven’t had a tremendous amount of action on the building,” Metrovation principal Chris Cole told redbangreen, noting that the company had switched over months ago to marketing it as an office and retail space.

The firm is, however, about to start demolition on at the corner of Bridge and West Front Street, where it won approval in 2006 for the MW West Side Lofts, a multiuse complex of 92 luxury residences, artists’ workspaces, shops, a Triumph Brewing Company restaurant and a parking garage.

The site was most recently home to Monmouth Antique Shoppes, from which two dozen dealers were displaced in May in anticipation of the wrecking ball. Cole said demolition of the sagging, yellow-clapboard structure will begin next month. Construction of a parking garage will start in January, to be followed by other components of the project, which will surround Danny’s Steakhouse on Bridge Avenue, he told the zoning board.

With the development of the lofts site, Cole said he and his partners are confident that interest will be renewed in the Anderson property. Both are within steps of the train station, the Two River Theater, the Galleria at Red Bank complex of stores, offices and restaurants, and a smattering of free-standing eateries. At the moment, though, Metrovation has no concrete plans for the site.

“We’re looking to come up with something really creative,” Cole said.

Cole appeared before the board to request a variance that would allow Metrovation to increase the size of its Anderson lot by cannibalizing property from an adjoining two-family house it owns on at the corner of Monmouth Street and Shrewsbury Avenue. The board gave unanimous approval, after asking for changes in the parking set-up at the house and the removal of a dilapidated garage.

The house, which has two three-bedroom apartments, would provide two of the 12 affordable rental units required as part of the lofts project. Under an agreement with the state Council on Affordable Housing, a total of five of those units would be offsite, Cole said.

The Anderson building is one of nine locations around town serving as displays for the ‘Heads‘ outdoor art installation through October 14.