By JOHN T. WARD
Store owner Bob Sickles told redbankgreen on Wednesday that his company plans to lease nearly all of the 8,000-square-foot ground floor of a building that will have three upper stories of offices.
A rendering by Richardson Smith Architects of the proposed Anderson Storage building, as seen from the same angle as the photo above. Below left, Bob Sickles with his father, Robert, and daughter, Tori. (Click to enlarge)
After having sat vacant for more than 30 years, the red-brick structure at Bridge Avenue and Monmouth Street is slated for a complete makeover by developer Metrovation. Because of its size and location, the project is viewed as a key piece of the emerging train station district and West Side.
Dubbed an “urban Sickles” by Metrovation partner Chris Cole, the store will include a bakery and areas selling meats, cheeses and coffee, in addition to the aisles of fruits and vegetables familiar to customers of the Little Silver market. In a first for the company, it will also have a fresh fish counter, Sickles said.
Sickles said that while the store won’t replicate the giant greenhouse and garden center the original store boasts, it may feature seasonal “pop-up” garden centers in the ample parking lot to be created where a vacant former auto dealership now stands, on Shrewsbury Avenue.
Sickles said he saw the deal as “a tremendous opportunity” to grow his space-squeezed business while working with Metrovation, a company that’s well-regarded for work in both the suburbs, as with its Grove and Grove West shopping centers in Shrewsbury, and urban in-fill projects.
“Good things tend to happen” with the firm, said Sickles, who serves on the board of the Monmouth Conservation Foundation and grew up with the children of Walter Anderson, the building’s long-ago owner.
The Little Silver store adjoins land that’s been continuously farmed since 1665 and is still farmed by Sickles’ father, Robert Sickles, who’s now 88 years old.
The new store won’t be called Sickles Market, but Sickles said he’s not ready to reveal its name.
Approved in October, 2014, Metrovation’s plan calls for a four-story addition to the existing 27,000-square-foot structure and other changes to produce 48,600 square feet of retail and office space. An earlier plan, approved in 2006 but never followed up on, would have yielded 23 condos.
The project calls for demolition of a house the company owns at the corner of Monmouth Street and Shrewsbury Avenue.
Cole, who pitched the idea to Sickles, said he envisioned the food market benefitting the surrounding neighborhood, which includes the year-old, and fully leased, 91-unit West Side Lofts project he built a block away, at the corner of Bridge Avenue and West Front Street.
“I think it just brings in a new dimension” to a district that already includes the Two River Theater; the Galleria shopping and office complex; a handful of restaurants; and the year-old Station Place apartments a block east on Monmouth Street, Cole said.
Cole told redbankgreen that he expects work on the Anderson project to begin in late summer or early fall. Sickles said he projects opening the store by the end of 2017.