290-ocean-ave-sb-101016-1The house, at 290 Ocean Avenue, features an unusual tunnel underneath the living space. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)



One of the more unusual construction projects on the Greater Red Bank Green has been catching the eyes of passersby on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright in recent months.

There, Red Bank builder Mike Villane is overseeing the creation of a house that appears to hover beside the Shrewsbury River, with a tunnel underneath.

sb-290-ocean-render-101016-1An architect’s rendering of the Staab house as seen from the river. Below, builder Mike Villane, from the same angle. (Rendering by RAAD Studio; photo below by by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Sitting atop an earthen berm that raises it more than 16 feet above base flood elevation, or two feet higher than necessary to protect it from severe flooding, the 3,000-square-foot structure consists of two flat boxes, one cantilevered atop the other.

“It’s built like a fortress,” with 450 cubic yards of concrete used to create a two-foot-thick foundation slab and support walls , said Villane, owner of Lead Dog Custom Homes.

A good deal of the concrete went into creating a tunnel that penetrates the berm for the entire length of the house. The tunnel provides access to the river side of the property, which features three outdoor patio levels.

New York architect RAAD Studio designed the three-bedroom house, which boasts an open floor plan reminiscent of a city loft, with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of both the river and the Atlantic Ocean. A long horizontal window on the Ocean Avenue side does double duty as the backsplash to the kitchen counter, Villane told redbankgreen on a recent tour.

The is being built on a what was previously a vacant sitefor New Yorkers R.C. and Valari Staab, who’ve spent the past three summers in rental homes in town.

“Most homes in the area have a Cape Cod look,” R.C. Staab said in a prepared statement. “Our intention wasn’t to build a unique house. We were just energized by the idea of not bringing the suburbs to the beach, but letting the beach be the beach.”

Villane, whose firm typically builds Colonial homes, is jazzed by the project. “To do something like this is great,” he said.

The exterior is to be clad in Alaskan yellow cedar, and the landscaping plan calls for natural grasses on the berm, picking up on the appearance of nearby Sandy Hook.

Construction is slated for completion this spring, Villane said.