red bank what's going on hereRED BANK 6 west front st.Dormant for decades, a building that would be key to a Broad-to-the-river project in downtown Red Bank was suddenly getting some TLC Thursday.

What’s Going On Here? Read on… (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

red bank 6 west front stThe building, at 6 West Front Street, as it appeared in 2014. Below, a rendering of the proposed changes filed with the town in 2015. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

red bank 6 west front st Bob Ebner, owner of the two-story building at 6 West Front Street, tells redbankgreen he’s simply following through, a bit tardily, on changes approved by the borough planning board three years ago.

The plan? To replace a faded mural and entrance to the second floor with a new display window and vestibule.

But the building will remain vacant, said Ebner, who’s 80 years old and owns a string of retail properties on West Front Street facing Broad Street. Ebner said he has no plans to sign a tenant anytime soon.

Why not?

For one thing, the building is in “terrible” shape inside, and would require a great deal of work, he said. And he would only do the renovations if he had a long-term tenant, but is now reluctant to saddle his wife with a long-term contract in the event of his passing, he added.

So the plan at this point, Ebner said, is to “throw a rug in the window and direct them down here” — “here” meaning his rug shop, at 29 East Front Street, and “them” meaning potential customers, of which he said there are fewer and fewer, because the bottom has dropped out of the antique rug business.

Known to many locals as the Panasonic store, because it once housed an electronics shop, and to history buffs as the onetime the Sheridan Hotel, the structure has been vacant for some two decades.

The mural that covered the retail space depicted, appropriately enough, a concept of a Broad-to-the-River project, which merchants and others have coveted for much of the past century as a way to create a panoramic view of the Navesink River from the business district. Ebner himself once proposed such a plan, but abandoned it, along with renovations on 6 WestFront, following the death of his daughter more than a decade ago.

Recent purchases of nearby properties by Denholtz Properties have revived talk of a Broad-to-the-river project, which would presumably require additional Ebner holdings. But Ebner said he’s not planning to sell this one.

“I love that property,” he said, and would have renovated the second floor to be his home long ago had his wife not objected.

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