Ray Rapcavage, seen below on Hudson Avenue opposite his properties, including a house destroyed by fire in May, 2012. Above, a rendering of the proposed project, with an English garden fronting on Hudson and 16 condos backing up against Clay Street. (Architectural rendering by David John Carnivale. Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The new plan reduces the number of proposed homes on the site — fronting on Harding Road, Clay Street and Hudson Avenue — to 18, from 22. It includes a large English garden of winding paths out front, whereas the last plan had no open space.
And most critically for Rapcavage, the plan doesn’t need any variances, he tells redbankgreen.
A street-level view of the project as seen from Hudson Avenue includes a hedgerow and center gate, above. Below, a rendering of one of the two identical affordable housing units to be built within the garden. (Architectural renderings by David John Carnivale. Click to enlarge)
The site includes a tarp-covered shell of a house destroyed by fire four years ago, a handful of residential properties and garages and a now-remediated gas station lot, all of which Rapcavage owns.
After a half-dozen hearings over 16 months and numerous revisions, the Rumson builder’s last plan for the site failed to win zoning board approval in December after zoning board members complained that it was “just too dense.”
On a tour of the site with redbankgreen on Monday, Rapcavage said he turned immediately to revising the plan, asking architect David John Carnivale, who had designed only one of three buildings in the last plan, to start from scratch with the site plan.
“We went back, basically, to the drawing board and said, ‘let’s look at this property again, understanding all the concerns'” voiced by neighbors and board members, Rapcavage said.
Carnivale’s new plan has 16 3.5-story condos lined up along Clay Street, with their front doors opening onto a half-acre garden.
Each of the units is set back 70 feet from Hudson Avenue, with a two-car garage at ground level and room for a third vehicle in the driveway on Clay Street, Rapcavage said.
Sited at the north and south ends of the garden are single-family, free-standing condo units, which Rapcavage said will satisfy the project’s affordable housing obligation.
With the garden and architectural flourishes on the buildings, the project is intended to evoke the feel of London’s older parts, he said.
“This could be a mews right here,” Rapcavage said of Clay Street, now little more than a pitted access road for nearby businesses. The back sides of the homes will carry the same decorative touches as the fronts, he said.
The zoning for the site allows for residential uses above the ground floor. No variances are needed, Rapcavage said, because no residential space is at ground level, just parking.
Rapcavage has requested an informal hearing with the planning board “to get their input” on what he calls a concept plan, and the board has scheduled the meeting for July 6, he said. Formal site plan approval would then be required, even if the town agrees no variances are needed.