What’s Going On Here? Read on…
The site as it appeared Monday, at top, and in September, 2017, above. The former Independent Engine firehouse is seen in both photos. (Photos by Trish Russoniello and John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
The borough zoning board approved the 24-unit luxury apartment project, known as Riverwalk Commons, for 24 Mechanic Street in 2012. An existing building was razed, and construction began with excavation work in 2017.
But work was halted by borough inspectors in September of that year over the developer’s failure to provide adequate shoring around the excavation. Among other concerns, the unsupported hole in the ground threatened the structural integrity of the former Independent Engine firehouse, which abuts its eastern property line, officials said.
All work ceased and the hole was later refilled, but nothing else has happened within the construction fencing.
After defaulting on a $2.5 loan, River Drive Developers, of Midland Park, lost the property via foreclosure to lender Amboy National Bank, which in turn sold the project earlier this year to HRK at Red Bank LLC, based in Atlantic Highlands, property records show.
In May, HRK obtained an extension on the zoning board approval that gives it until June 30, 2020, to obtain building permits, which it has already begun doing, said HRK principal Mazin Kalian. And Wednesday night, the borough council is slated to accept a new performance bond for the project.
In an interview with redbankgreen Monday, Kalian said the project is back on track, with one important item already addressed: the prior owner did in fact complete the shoring alongside the old firehouse before the excavated site was refilled, he said.
Except for some cosmetic changes, the project will be the same as approved in 2012, with 22 luxury units, two affordable units and surface-level parking underneath the building, Kalian said. Completion is expected to start construction in a few weeks, and take about 18 months to complete, he said.
Kalian said he’s eager to get rid of the green fence.
Under an access agreement with the borough, Riverwalk tenants will be able to drive into and from the site via the adjoining East Side municipal parking lot between Mechanic and Wallace streets.
Meantime, the former firehouse is itself in the process of getting a complete overhaul. Read about that project here.