By JOHN T. WARD
And thanks to a recently razed house in Brooklyn, it will get some additional new — or rather, quite old — brickwork.
Jennifer and David Glassberg of Little Silver obtained zoning board approvals last Thursday night to turn the former Independent Engine Company house on Mechanic Street into a first-floor space for her home furnishings and interior design business, with a small office and residential apartment on the second floor.
The plan also calls for a small addition, without increasing the footprint of the building. The two-story addition will replace a small, one-story bump-out at the rear of the structure and include a third-story deck above the new space only, for the use of the residential tenant, architect Frank Tomaino testified.
The only speedbumps to the board’s unanimous approval concerned parking. The Glassbergs sought to preserve the curb apron out front as a loading zone to facilitate the movement of goods in an out of the building. But borough planning and zoning director Glenn Carter said that loading zones are for property owners, not the borough, to provide, and noted the town council might want to create a parking spot in front of the building.
Additionally, Mechanic Street resident Susan Brady expressed concern that granting a parking variance would worsen a bad situation for her and her neighbors. The project requires eight spaces, but only four are provided, under a long-term lease associated with the Glassberg’s purchase of the building from the borough at auction for $393,000 in 2016.
Brady said she objected to the projected being granted “more than what the fire department had there.” But board president Ray Mass said that no additional spaces were being dedicated for building use, and any customers or visitors not accommodated by the four spots would have to find parking in the adjoining East Side lot or elsewhere.
David Glassberg, a retired New York City police officer, and his wife are recent transplants from the city who were attracted to the building, he told the board, in part because of it’s history as a “first-responder” facility. He said he met with volunteer firefighters from the Independent company and was dedicated to preserving as much as possible of the building’s historical integrity, including tin ceilings inside and the brick exterior.
Toward that end, the addition will be clad in bricks recycled from a house Glassberg demolished recently in Brooklyn. The brick is very close in color and character to the existing brick,” a match not easily made, Tomaino said.
Glassberg said the brick is from a house built in the 1860s, and it’s already being stored in the firehouse, where a firetruck once parked.
“We’re going to make the building beautiful,” he told redbankgreen.
Board member Sean Murphy praised the plan for “keeping the look of the firehouse,” which he said has strong significance to families whose members have served in it.
The building is a virtual twin of 40 White Street, the former home of the Liberty Hose company: both were built in 1908. The borough sold the Liberty house at auction for $400,000 in 2014 to downtown property owner Morco. That structure, which will also be largely preserved, is slated to become home to Ross Brewing Company and two apartments on the second floor.