67 broad 031415After a seven-year vacancy, 67 Broad Street has a new owner, who says he hopes to have a tenant in by summer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Rcsm2_010508A gaping, long-term and somewhat mysterious vacancy in the heart of downtown Red Bank appears to be nearing an end.

Jeweler Joe Romanowski, who owns two stores on Broad Street, has purchased the building at 67 Broad, next door to his Poor Cat Designs boutique, redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has learned.

• joe romanowski 111513 2Joe Romanowski in 2013, during the buildout of his Goldtinker store at 24 Broad. (Click to enlarge)

The transfer has not yet hit the online property records maintained by Monmouth County, but Romanowski tells Churn he recently paid $774,000 for the building.

The seller was a Manhattan-based entity called Miracles 929 LLC, which paid $1.3 million for it in late 2005, when real estate prices were soaring. Little more than two years later, its last tenant, a dress shop called Marisa, departed, and the global economic recession hit, knocking down inflated values.

“It was never worth $1.3 million,” said Romanowski. “It’s worth what I paid for it.”

Romanowski also owns Goldtinker, a 40-year-old jewelry business that consolidated stores from Rumson and Deal at  24 Broad Street, which he bought for $1.3 million last year. Poor Cat rents its space, at 69 Broad, from landord Inge Perndorger.

The space at 67 Broad features two selling floors, including a second story with large arch-top window overlooking Broad near the intersection of Monmouth Street.

Romanowski said he hasn’t lined up a tenant, but is talking to a New York-based retailer of high-quality vintage clothing about a lease. He said the building needs only cosmetic touches, and he hopes to have a tenant in by summer.

“Anybody who goes in is going to have a leg up, because there is so much activity at Poor Cat,” he said. “And I’ll be able to charge a reasonable rent, so they can make money there.”

Red Bank RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone expressed relief about the sale. He said  the long vacancy was an “eyesore,” and that the landlord ignored the agency’s offers to help land a tenant.

“We’re thrilled that it sold, and that it went to someone who really wants to bring specialty retail in,” Scavone told Churn. “Having someone like Joe own it is great.”