Motorists passing through Five Corners in Red Bank in recent days might understandably have gotten the impression that a vacant house there had burned down and been demolished.

They’d be mistaken. So What’s Going on Here? 

The house at the corner of Hudson and Harding was reduced to rubble Tuesday. The properties outlined in yellow, below, comprise the future home of Azalea Gardens. ((Photos by John T. Ward, aerial  by Google Maps. Click to enlarge.)

On Sunday, borough volunteer firefighters under the command of Chief Stu Jensen used the house at the northwest corner of Harding Road and Hudson Avenue for training exercises, filling its front porch with fake smoke.

Less than 48 hours later, on Tuesday morning, a wrecking crew took down the house, which had once been home to a candy store, in less than an hour, owner/developer Ray Rapcavage told redbankgreen.

The teardown marked the start of a redevelopment project more than a decade in the making that comprises six houses on Hudson, a former gas station at Harding and Clay Street, and a string of garages along Clay Street. There, Rapcavage has approvals to build Azalea Gardens, an 18-home townhouse community featuring a lush English garden fronting on Hudson.

Next, the other five homes on the property, all vacant, are slated for demolition in coming weeks, Rapcavage said. Among them is a two-family that burned down in an actual fire in 2012 and has sat covered in tarps ever since.

Rapcavage said he expects to complete the townhouses by early autumn. “Once we get rolling, it goes very fast,” he said.