A rendering of the Riverside Avenue side of the multiuse project proposed for the former Visiting Nurse Association headquarters site. (Plan by Dynamic Engineering. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
What could be the largest development project in Red Bank history would put 210 living units and more on a 2.7-acre parcel, redbankgreen has learned.
The project proposed by Saxum Real Estate would also include a 326-vehicle parking garage, co-working space and retail or restaurant space, according to a detailed plan filed last month.
A recent view of the vacant former VNA building, with Bodman Place and the Colony House apartments at right. Below, a page from the site plan indicates the lot coverage of the proposed project, with a garage entryway on Bodman. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
The plan calls for five-story mixed-use structure on the site of the former Visiting Nurse Association building at 176 Riverside Avenue, which would be demolished.
In its place would rise 210 residential units, 9,000 square feet of coworking space and “accessory retail/food space,” according to an April 15 filing with the borough planning office.
The project would provide 326 parking spots onsite, 10 more than Saxum’s engineers say are required under borough ordinance. That includes parking to accommodate seating for up to 40 customers of restaurant space.
The plan shows a central access to a parking garage on Bodman Place, as well as two drop-off and pick-up areas on that side of the structure.
The unnamed project will need planning board approval as well as unspecified variances. A hearing date has not yet been set.
Saxum, based in Parsippany-Troy Hills, bought the property for $7.4 million in December, 2017, putting what had been a tax-exempt site onto the tax rolls, and $80,000 into borough coffers last year, according to tax records.
The purchase came amid a buying spree in town by Saxum, which had previously not been known to have holdings here. In December 2106, the firm bought the former Smith Barney building at 55 Broad Street for $4 million, and paid $6.9 million for the building that houses an Urban Outfitters store at 2-10 Broad Street last June.
Widely anticipated, the Riverside Avenue/Bodman Place project has been central to the borough council’s search for a solution to its so-called Mount Laurel affordable housing obligation. Saxum’s interest in redeveloping the site drove a recently adopted settlement between the borough and the nonprofit Fair Share Housing Center over the issue.
A recent report, by Chris Dockery, of CME Associates, the borough’s planning consultant on the issue, forecast that 38 affordable rental units would be created by Saxum. But Dockery’s report anticipated just 189 units overall on the site.
Saxum’s then-still-secret plan also weighed heavily in the creation of a redevelopment overlay zone for the site last year. In the process, the council rejected a planning board recommendation that capped the density of the site to 80 housing units per acre. At the urging of Mayor Pasquale Menna, the council upped the cap to 90 units per acre.
At the upcoming planning board hearing, the project is certain to raise issues related to traffic. The property is at an intersection considered one of the most problematic in town, particularly for motorists trying to turn south from Bodman Place onto Riverside Avenue, which doubles as state Route 35.
Menna, a lawyer whose office is on Bodman Place, has repeatedly urged the New Jersey Department of Transportation to install a traffic light there. But the DOT has rejected the suggestion as “not feasible,” arguing that the location is too close to the lights at the juncture of Riverside, Bridge Avenue and Rector Place.
Last November, Menna said that Saxum was open to contributing to the cost of a light, provided the borough can obtain approval from the DOT.
Here’s the complete site plan: 176 Riverside Site Plan
And here are the architectural drawings: 176 Riverside Ave Architecturals