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RED BANK: VIEWS SPLIT ON MUMFORD PLAN

red-bank-the-parker-031821-500x286-3538555A rendering of the building, dubbed The Parker, proposed for Shrewsbury Avenue at River Street. (Image by Thomas J. Brennan Architects. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-220x138-7378486A proposal for four stories of new retail and apartments on Shrewsbury Avenue got mixed reviews at Thursday’s meeting of the Red Bank zoning board.

It’s “huge,” said a board member and one resident. It’s a welcome replacement to the two vacant homes now on the site, said two other commenters.

red-bank-the-parker-031821-3-500x365-8750949A plan showing the proposed parking area, which would be accessed from River Street. Below, another view of the Shrewsbury Avenue side of the building. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

red-bank-the-parker-031821-2-220x122-6703210Red Bank-based developer Roger Mumford is hoping to replace the structures, one of which was the site of a funeral home, on the west side of Shrewsbury Avenue at River Street.

In their place would go a four-story building with 4,500 square feet of street-level retail and 23 rental apartments, two of them classified as affordable.

Mumford’s Yellow Brook Property Co. is seeking a use variance and related waivers for height, density and setbacks at this point in the process. If granted, the firm would return for final approval of a detailed site plan at a future date, said attorney Craig Gianetti.

The new structure, dubbed the Parker at Red Bank, would extend 154 feet south from River Street, with 23 apartments and on-site parking for 27 vehicles in the rear, accessed via River Street.

After presentations by an engineer and a traffic consultant, Mumford’s planning consultant, Christine Nazzaro Cofone, argued that the red brick building would be comparable in height to, and complement, the River Street Commons senior citizens apartments – formerly the River Street School – on the intersection’s northeast corner.

“The fact that it is an old building, the fact that it is in excess of 40 feet, and the fact that it has that beautiful old brick on it, I think are all things that help our application,” she said. “Because it creates sort of a synergy or sympathetic architectural pattern to ours.”

But board member Bruce Maida, a candidate for council in June’s Democratic primary, was unconvinced the case has been made for allowing the project.

“I don’t know that we want something this big,” he said. “You said you wanted to preserve the character and density of existing neighborhoods, and I don’t believe this is doing that.”

Sean Murphy was the only other zoning board member to express an opinion, and said he could find no fault with Mumford’s plan.

“I think this is an area in need” of redeveloment, he said. “I also like Roger Mumford’s track record. I’m not really seeing many problems at this point.”

With just 10 minutes allotted for public comments before the hearing was adjourned, only two residents weighed in: one pro, and one con.

Brad Jones, who lives opposite the project on River Street, praised the plan.

“I think it’s beautiful, and will improve this side of  town,” he said.

But Laura Camargo, of Elm Place, was critical of the plan’s heft, impact on parking and more.

“It needs to be modified,” she said. “You’re taking away the beauty of Shrewsbury Avenue.”

She said it was “insane” to add the project to a corner where pedestrians “cannot cross, because drivers do not stop.”

The hearing was adjourned to May 20, when additional public questions and comments will be heard.

Mumford built the Fortune Square apartments on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, where he also restored the National Historic Register-listed T. Thomas Fortune house.

Mumford’s projects have also included the Station Place apartments on Monmouth Street and adjoining Oakland Square apartments on Oakland Street; and the Brownstones townhouse project on Catherine Street.

The hearing was adjourned to May 20, when additional public questions and comments will be heard.

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