RED BANK: MALL TO INSTALL SAFETY BOLLARDS

rb city centre 040215The City Centre strip mall has seen four incidents in which cars have driven into storefronts in recent years, the latest on March 3, below. (Photos by John T. Ward, above, and Carl Colmorgen, below. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb crash 030315 1The owner of Red Bank’s City Centre strip mall hopes to put an end to unwanted drive-thru service.

After four incidents in recent years in which vehicles jumped the curb and crashed into storefronts, John Bowers will install safety bollards, he tells redbankgreen.

The work can’t start soon enough, said Bowers, third-generation head of the Philip J. Bowers & Company real estate firm. He said he’s awaiting the issuance of permits to install bollards every four feet between the row of head-in parking slots and the main sidewalk serving the mall, which faces Water Street at Maple Avenue.

Four times in the history of the 20-year-old center, cars have struck storefronts, in one case injuring a customer. The latest incident occurred on March 3, when a vehicle plowed through the facade at Cluck U Chicken and stopped only after it was entirely inside and had sent employees running and empty tables flying. Two employees had minor injuries.

Why so many crashes? Bowers can only guess that it’s a function of the high level of activity at the center. A smaller strip mall his company operates in Tinton Falls has seen one such incident in 20 years, he said.

Cluck U, which has been closed since the last accident, expects to reopen in about a week, Bowers said.

Bowers spoke to redbankgreen at a meeting of the borough zoning board, which heard and approved a plan for new signage at one of City Centre’s tenant businesses, Rite Aid. The national chain is sinking several hundred thousand dollars into changes at the store in anticipation of increased competition with this year’s expected opening of a Walgreens at the south end of Broad Street, he said.

Bowers also said he’s close to signing another restaurant to take space vacated by Manhattan Bagel in February. He declined to identify the prospective tenant.