By JOHN T. WARD
At the northeast corner of Maple Avenue and West Front Street, developer Mark Forman hopes to erect a four-story, 26,000-square-foot office and residential building. It would replace two long-vacant structures, one of them a former dentist’s office next door to the borough library.
Dubbed ‘Rivermark,’ the project would have two levels of underground parking, with ground-floor office space and eight luxury condos above, each with a balcony or deck with views of the Navesink River.
Forman’s architect, Michael Monroe, also detailed for the board a plan for a public-access terrace on the north side of the building, offering sweeping views of the river. The terrace would sit above the entrance to the underground parking.
The plan needs variances for setbacks from the property lines and parking spaces. While the proposal would provide onsite parking for 43 vehicles, the borough calculates 48 are required. But Forman’s parking consultant, John Rea, testified that because of the differences in peak-hour usage by residents and office users, “we’ll have 10 to 15 vacant spaces at any point of the day.”
The size of the building gave at least one board member pause.
“Can’t you make it a little smaller?” board chairman Dan Mancuso asked Monroe early on in the hearing. As currently drawn, “we’re losing a tremendous amount of view” between the two existing structures, he said, and “from a visual standpoint, this is priceless to the town.”
Michaela Ferrigine, who chairs the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission, also called the proposed structure “a little too massive.”
In addition, Ferrigine disputed Monroe’s assertion that the two existing buildings have no historical significance. The commission has listed them on its inventory of historic structures.
Still, she agreed they have “deteriorated beyond repair” and praised Monroe’s design, which replicates traditional brickwork seen elsewhere in town.
Monroe agreed to rework the plan to accommodate their comments. He also agreed to Mayor Pasquale Menna’s suggestion that he consult with the borough’s architect, Gabe Massa, about the project.
The next hearing on the application was scheduled for July 16.