An architect’s rendering of the proposed Anderson Storage building, as seen from Bridge Avenue. Below, zoning board member Jesse Garrison, left, congratulates developer Chris Cole after the vote. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The second plan to transform the Red Bank’s former Anderson storage building in a decade cruised to approval Thursday night.
The earlier approval, obtained in 2006 and never followed up on, was to convert the long-vacant, 27,000-square-foot structure into 23 condos. This one calls for a four-story addition and other changes to produce a 48,600SF office structure with a stores and a restaurant on the ground floor, a greenhouse on the roof, and a small shop made of shipping containers in the rear parking lot.
The new plan had some tailwind created by its predecessor.
Developer Metrovation needed variances for building height and a parking shortage, among others. Those variances would not have been required, the firm’s experts argued, if the borough’s “train station overlay” zone, which the building is just outside, applied to office buildings as well as to those with residences on their upper floors.
But even though it does not, they said, the building is wholly in character with others nearby that are in the zone, including Metrovation’s West Side Lofts project under construction just a block away, on Bridge Avenue. That structure will rise to 60 feet. The Anderson proposal calls for a peak height of 50 feet; zoning allows for 40.
The earlier approval, however, allowed for 50 feet, and zoning board members appeared untroubled by the latest request.
No one was in the audience to comment on the plan, which calls for the addition, on the western end of the building, to be set back 10 feet from the sidewalk, creating what one Metrovation planner called a “pedestrian-scale plaza,” whereas the existing structure abuts the property line along Monmouth Street.
The building, at the corner of Monmouth Street and Bridge Avenue, has been vacant for 30 years or so, Metrovation lawyer Rick Brodsky said earlier this month. Architect Terry William Smith, of Richardson Smith Architects in Princeton, told the board the plan would revive the structure.
“I think one of the nicest features is that windows now boarded up will be opened, exposing the life of the building” to passersby, he said.
Employing shipping containers as usable space, Metrovation plans to build a small retail structure with a single apartment above it, in the center of the parking lot, which faces Shrewsbury Avenue.
A century-old greenhouse, one of two that Metrovation salvaged from a farm in Colts Neck, is to be installed on the roof of the existing building.
The classic Anderson sign and clock on the corner facing the train station will be retained, though they may be relocated on the building’s facade, Metrovation general partner Chris Cole said.
After a 7-0 vote to approve, board members were effusive in their praise.
“I personally think the delay in building this has made it a much better project,” said member Kevin Moss, who called it “architecturally outstanding.”
Cole said he anticipates that construction will begin next spring and conclude by the third quarter of 2016.