39 e front 071514The owner of 39 East Front Street says he’ll replace what he admits is the “ugliest” facade on the block with the conversion to retail. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


retail churn smallAre prescription drugs and shampoos displacing pizza, frozen yogurt and cupcakes as the hot new thing in downtown Red Bank?

A new pharmacy and convenience store has filed plans to open on East Front Street near Riverview Medical Center, even as two other drugstores – a giant Walgreens and an independent – move ahead elsewhere on the East Side.

Marlboro-based real estate investor Mark Forman filed plans last week for 39 Front Street, a stucco-covered building next door to Sugarush cupcakes, for use as a first-floor retail pharmacy with offices above.

The retail use is permitted, but Forman will need some variances, according to borough planing director Donna Smith-Barr.

Forman acquired the 8,400-square-foot building, which was vacated by Red Bank Radiology about a year and a half ago, last year for $900,000, records show.

Forman tells Retail Churn he has a pharmacist lined up as a tenant.

“I think they’re looking to do more of a convenience store with a pharmacy,” he said Tuesday. “It’s less about the prescriptions than having a place to pick stuff up” on the way in or out of the hospital.

The move comes less than three years after Red Bank Professional Pharmacy called it quits on a 61-year run, citing competition from chains.

Since then, pharmacist Kamlesh Patel has won approval for an independent pharmacy at 141-1431 Broad Street, nearly opposite the former home of the Professional Pharmacy. And Walgreens got the green light for a 10,000-square-foot store on the one-acre site of the former Rassas Buick dealership, at Broad Street opposite Maple Avenue.

Patel’s store is under construction, while demolition has not yet begun at the Walgreens site.

Forman, who acknowledged his building’s facade “is definitely the ugliest on the block,” says he’ll correct that in the makeover to the pharmacy.

Forman has experience navigating the bureaucracy of Red Bank. He developed and won approval for the plans for the mixed-used Metropolitan luxury apartment complex on Wallace Street before selling it to builders. He still owns the first floor, which is rented as office space.

“When you do this for a living, you find it’s not too different” from other towns. “I don’t try to buck the system.”