By JOHN T. WARD
Owner and developer Ray Rapcavage plans to convert nearly a whole block at the five corners confluence of Harding Road and Branch and Hudson avenues into a three-building complex anchored by an old-fashioned fruit and vegetable market and 20 residences.
If approved and built, the project would transform the acre-sized site of four existing homes and a former gasoline station into a vibrant, eastward expansion of the downtown business district, said Rapcavage, who gave redbankgreen a sneak peek at his plans Monday.
“When you come into that intersection, you’re going to see a lot of green,” he said of produce displays he has plans along a the Harding Road facade of the market.
The centerpiece of Rapcavage’s plan is an 8,000-square-foot, two-story commercial structure, dubbed the Market Building, running along Harding between Hudson Avenue and Clay Street. The ground floor, he said, would be occupied by a food market that Rapcavage plans to run with his wife, Suzanne, and other relatives.
“I’m going to be employing a lot of family members,” he said with a laugh.
The second floor, he said, would be ideal for a large yoga studio, though no tenant is yet lined up, he said.
The redevelopment also calls for a row of 10 townhouse-style homes, each with two-car garages underneath, on Hudson. Priced in the $450,000 range, they would replace four homes Rapcavage owns on Hudson, including the shell of a two-family house that was destroyed by fire in May, 2012.
Another 10 attached homes, at lower prices, would be built on the Clay Street side of the block, backing up against the townhouse property. Parking would be at-grade, underneath the homes.
Rapcavage, of Rumson, said he expects to file his plans with the borough within the week, and does not anticipate needing any major variances because the entire site is located in a central commercial district. That designation, he said, permits him to erect an office building up to four stories tall and gobbling up 80,000 square feet of volume.
“Obviously, that would stick out like a sore thumb” at the location, he said.
The opposite side of Hudson Avenue is residential.
Work would begin work on the market “immediately” if approved, Rapcavage said. The townhouse project would follow next spring, he said.
Rapcavage began assembling the parcel a decade ago, when he bought the house at the corner of Harding and Hudson as an investment property. He tore down the gas station in 2007, and has since spent $250,000 out of pocket to remediate the site, a process that is now “88-percent complete,” he said.
A recent paint job to the site’s most visible house made it the subject of some derision on redbankgreen‘s Facebook page, though Rapcavage said the criticism was unfair.
“I don’t think it’s unlike about 100 other homes in town, but the fact that it’s corner it came under a lot of scrutiny,” he said.