The building at left will be torn down to make room for an addition to British Cottage’s main showroom, in the building at center. (Photo by John T. Ward. Architectural rendering by Matt Cronin. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
British Cottage, a furniture store, is planning the latest in a series of expansions over its three decades in town.
Shop owners Tricia and Keith Nelson won borough planning board approval last week to demolish the building at 130 Shrewsbury Avenue, which they use as an annex, and to replace it with a one-story addition to their main showroom next door, at 126 Shrewsbury.
The addition, which comes with a facelift for the existing structure, will allow for better display of furniture, said Keith. “It will make it more like a room setting,” he said.
The Nelsons launched their business 32 years ago in battered old building at 124 West Front Street, now the site of City Centre strip mall. Two years later, they bought the former Van Brunt Printing building on Shrewsbury Avenue, and have since expanded twice, most recently about a decade ago.
The driving force behind the latest plan, Tricia Nelson wrote in a blog post, is to compete by giving customers an experience they can’t get shopping on their computers and phones.
“This way we can place products in actual room settings, and feature items like couches and chairs and artwork – things that really need to be seen or touched before buying – something you can’t ever do on the internet,” she wrote.
“We’re going for it,” she told redbankgreen. “We’re too young to retire and too old to do something else.”
The plan was designed by architect Matt Cronin, whose office is directly across from the shop, and is expected to get underway in a few months.
The work marks another investment along the heavily trafficked roadway. In recent years, grocer and restaurateur Juan Torres has invested in several shops along street, most notably Juanito’s International Marqueta, at the northeast corner of Catherine Street. A year ago, Torres won approvals for apartments and a laundromat next door to the market that have yet to begin construction.
In addition, Shrewsbury Avenue Pharmacy opened in a new building last June. And now underway at Shrewsbury Avenue and Monmouth Street is construction on Metrovation’s Anderson Building, an old storage facility being retrofitted and expanded to include a Sickles Provisions store and offices, with a parking accessed via Shrewsbury Avenue.
Up next: a plan by the owners of a vacant storefront on the southeast corner of Shrewsbury and Catherine for a new retail space with a second-floor apartment. The proposal is on the zoning board’s Thursday night agenda.
The building, next door to the On the Rocks liquor store, was the scene of a fire in 2016. It was last used as a fish market that closed in the 1990s.