RED BANK: HOMEBUILDER EYES FACTORIES

A cluster of industrial buildings between Catherine Street, above, and River Street would be razed for new brownstones, according to the prospective builder. Part of the site abuts the Cedar Crossing homes, seen in the distance above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A block of factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side, including some old millworks and a former guitar factory, could give way to new housing in coming months, redbankgreen has learned.

Mill owner Frank Thomas, seen in his Catherine Street shop last week, will have to relocate to accommodate the plan. Below, the new homes would be constructed in the area outlined in red below (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Developer Roger Mumford confirmed Tuesday that he is in the process of acquiring half a block’s worth of properties between Catherine and River streets east of Bridge Avenue, alongside the Conrail tracks.

Mumford told redbankgreen that he was reluctant to discuss the project in detail because he has not yet submitted plans to the borough for review. But he said it calls for 20 market-rate and two income-restricted “brownstone-style” townhomes with parking out back and “a very nice looking streetscape.”

The homes, some of which would neighbor the income-restricted Cedar Crossing homes along the north-south portion of Catherine Street, would be for sale, not for rent, Mumford said.

He expects to go before the planning or zoning board in June or July, with an eye toward starting work on the project later in the year if approved, he said.

Bruce Blaisdell, who owns an architectural detail mill on Catherine Street, confirmed to redbankgreen that he is in contract to sell to Mumford.  Frank Thomas, whose Custom Woodwork is located at 9 Catherine, just to the east of Blaisdell’s, said he was recently directed by his landlord, Terra Fund III, to vacate the site by October 17 as part of a planned sale.

Thomas began his career in the building in 1964 as an apprentice at the E. Osborn Company millworks. He left the company in 1982, and returned as a tenant with his own business around 2000.

“It’s been home the last 50 years of my life,” said Thomas, a 71-year-old Highlands resident. He shares the space with two other independent woodworkers, one of whom identified himself only as ‘Steve’ and manufactures custom skateboards.

Another Terra Fund tenant, Best of Nature personal care products, recently moved to Eatontown. The company was based at 10 River Street, the onetime home of the Danelectro company, which produced thousands of guitars and amplifiers for sale through the Sears & Roebuck catalog for about a dozen years beginning in the mid-1950s. (redbankgreen plans to post a story about Danelectro in coming days.)

The project, if approved, would add momentum to a West Side transformation in which Mumford has played a large role.

In recent years, the Little Silver resident, who maintains his office in the neighborhood, has rebuilt from the ground up the northeast corner of Bridge Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, where a building housing the Black Dragons karate dojo is flanked by new Mumford single-family homes. Several more homes he built are located on the opposite side of Bridge Avenue.

He is now in the process of restoring the National Historic Register T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and turning it into a cultural center with 31 rental homes on the site. That project, dubbed Fortune Square, is slated for completion in the spring of 2018, Mumford said.

Mumford also built the Station Place apartments on Monmouth Street at West Pearl Street, which he sold in late 2015 to a Cranford-based company for $17.75 million, according to Monmouth County records.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+