The planned Southbank townhomes, seen looking northeast from Boat Club Court. (Rendering by Rotwein+Blake; photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
A plan for luxury townhouses overlooking the Navesink River from Red Bank won zoning board approval Thursday night.
And while the board didn’t get the sidewalk it had hoped for on a steep street, the developer did agree to build another stretch of sidewalk.
The 10-unit Southbank development, proposed by Denholtz Associates would be built on a vacant lot between West Front Street and Union Street, alongside Boat Club Court. The site overlooks the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club and the Monmouth Boat Club.
Plans call for five one-story units topped by five two-story units, with 26 parking spots for tenants underneath the structure and eight more exposed, according to plans. Here are the floor plans: Denholtz.Southbank. Architec. 16&22 W. Front St. Z13066
Among the variances needed was one for the absence of commercial uses on the first floor. At 18 units per acre, the project is below the 25 per acre permitted by zoning, Denholtz consultants testified.
As he did earlier this month when the hearing began, board member Sean Murphy continued to voice concern that the project did not include plans for a sidewalk on its Boat Club Court side. There’s no sidewalk on the other side, either, which forces pedestrians into a narrow roadway for two-way vehicular travel.
Murphy pressed Janiw to identify “another property in Red Bank that doesn’t have a sidewalk.”
Janiw said he couldn’t. But he and consulting engineer Jim Kennedy said that multiple complications would make the creation of the sidewalk financial untenable.
They include the slope of the site toward the road’s edge, which would require building a high retaining wall; the pitch of the road, which would require a winding path to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the presence of utility poles and a fire hydrant. Relocating them would double the cost of the sidewalk project, board engineer Ed Hermann acknowledged.
Instead, said Denholtz attorney John Giunco, would build a sidewalk along the northern edge of the site, on Union Street. Residents and guests of Southbank would be able to access that street via a stairwell on the eastern edge of the site, he said.
A good deal of the hearing focused on concerns about the narrow, nameless borough-owned right-of-way between the site and the backside of buildings fronting on West Street.
Among the conditions imposed by the board in its approval: that Denholtz make a “good-faith effort” to persuade the borough council to create a fire lane there.
Board attorney Kevin Kennedy cautioned that while applicants before zoning and planning boards cannot obtain approvals in exchange for offsite improvements, the courts have allowed offsite improvements that are “directly related to” the application.
Board member Anne Torre made the motion to approve the plan, calling the building design “attractive” and the Union Street sidewalk “a very good solution to the walkability issue.” The board’s vote was unanimous.
Denholtz CEO Steve Denholtz told redbankgreen he expects to begin the project by the end of 2019. His company, which recently relocated to Red Bank from Matawan, is also building a massive office-residential-commercial project called the Rail alongside the Red Bank train station.
A hearing on a proposal for a craft brewery, pasta restaurant and two new upper floors at 42 Monmouth Street was rescheduled to May 16.