By JOHN T. WARD
The VNA Health Group is quitting Red Bank, leaving behind a large empty building that could wind up on the tax rolls of a borough whose officials complain often about the high number of nonprofits.
Heck, it would even make a great hotel, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.
Formerly known as the Visiting Nurse Association, the VNA, which provides home health care, hospice and other health services, announced Tuesday that it was relocating its headquarters to space in the Vonage head office in Holmdel.
The announcement said the nonprofit entity’s employees would be relocated out of the Red Bank building, located on a bend in Riverside Avenue/Route 35 between the Molly Pitcher Inn. The number of employees at the site was not reported. The move would begin in the first quarter of the new year, the statement said.
Sharing space with the telecom company will enable the VNA to better leverage a “digital health initiative that supports vulnerable elders and young families with telehealth, virtual visits, continuous wound monitoring, and access to digital health apps,” the VNA said.
The VNA’s current offices, built in the 1960s, “are struggling to support the organization’s technology requirements and growing workforce,” president and CEO Dr. Steven Landers said in the statement. “A dedicated, entrepreneurial workforce deserves an innovative, creative workplace where they can thrive and grow professionally.”
Menna told redbankgreen that neither he nor borough Administrator Stanley Sickels had been notified of the departure. But he said it creates an opportunity for the borough to replace one of the many entities that contribute to the borough’s heavy load of tax-exempt properties.
Exempt real estate accounts for about 14 percent of the total valuation of the town, he said, or about four times the municipal average throughout Monmouth County.
According to Monmouth County tax records, the 20,000-square-foot VNA property is valued at nearly $4 million. At current tax rates, it would generate nearly $22,000 per quarter for the municipality, $31,000 for the borough school district and almost $18,000 for Red Bank Regional High School, as well as revenue for the county, its Open Space program and the borough library.
“Hopefully they will sell it, and hopefully it will be acquired by a commercial entity,” Menna said. And with ample parking on site, “it seems to me that it’s ready-made for a hotel,” he said.
Located in the waterfront development zone, which allows hotels, the building sits across Bodman Place from the Molly Pitcher Inn, and just up the block from the Molly’s sibling, the Oyster Point Hotel.
Directly opposite Route 35 to the west is the site of a proposed, and controversial, six-story Hampton Inn hotel, which is the subject of an ongoing planning board hearing that is scheduled to continue December 19.
Menna is a member of the board.