sb school 021015 2Vacant since 1978, the old Sea Bright School, below, would be refashioned into a 12-unit apartment building, as shown in the rendering above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


sb school 011614 2Eight years after winning approval to turn Sea Bright’s long-abandoned former schoolhouse into 13 condos, a developer ran into resistance with proposed changes to the plan Tuesday night.

Aldo Frustaci, who paid $100,000 for the River Street structure in 1996, will go back to the drawing board again, his lawyer said, after the planning board raised questions about a proposed flat roof and other aspects of the proposal – including the aesthetics.

“This just looks like an ugly box,” board vice chairman Dave Deseo told the architect, Darius Toraby.

sb school 021015 1Developer Aldo Frustaci, right, with engineer Mike Michael Cannon, left, and architect Darius Toraby. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The K-8 school was closed on August 31, 1978, when 53 students were transferred to the Oceanport school district over purported safety issues and demands by the state Department of Education for improvements, according to reporting by the now-defunct Red Bank Register. It’s been vacant ever since.

Still, “it’s not only a historic building, but absolutely robust construction, with 16-inch walls,” Toraby told the board. “There are some loose floorboards and damaged joists, but otherwise, the building is perfectly sound.”

Unlike the plan approved in 2007 and amended in 2008, but never built, Frustaci’s latest proposal does not call for increasing the footprint of the building, which backs up onto South Street. Rather, it calls for creating two new floors, which would put it at more than 71 feet above grade when completed.

It would also have a flat roof, which the borough has banned after a spate of residential remodelings yielded roof decks that “really have been a detriment to some of the neighborhoods,” said board chairman Chick Cunningham.

Toraby said he was not aware of the ban.

Deseo ripped the plan as “out of character” with the town’s architecture and for putting 12 units on a half-acre, when the zoning only allows for four units per full acre. He also noted that the plan calls for eight units that fall short of the borough-required minimum 1,200 square feet for two-bedroom apartments.

Frustaci’s lawyer, Marty McGann, said the developer and architect would revise the plan to address board concerns. The next hearing was scheduled for April 14.