By JOHN T. WARD
Questions about the need for a fifth floor surrounded a plan for 50 new apartments in downtown Red Bank Thursday night.
Capping the building at four stories would eliminate the need for height and parking variances, a member of the borough zoning board suggested.
As proposed, developer Mazin ‘Patrick’ Kalian‘s project, at 19-29 Mechanic Street, would top out at more than 56 feet in a zone that limits heights to 40 feet.
The project, called One Globe Court, also needs a waiver for a parking shortfall, providing 75 stalls on the ground level, whereas 88 are required by ordinance.
“Why the fifth floor?” board member Sean Murphy asked Kalian’s architect, Richard Garber, of GRO Architects. “If you did away with that fifth floor, and kept it at four, you probably wouldn’t need the parking variance, would you?”
Garber acknowledged that doing so would reduce the apartment total to 40, while the number of parking spaces would be unaffected.
The plan calls for four stories of apartments above ground-floor parking, with 12 one-bedroom and 38 two-bedroom units arranged in a horseshoe shape, with the opening facing north.
An estimated eight units would qualify as affordable, said Kalian’s attorney, former mayor Ed McKenna.
A second-floor outdoor deck would be provided for residents, and some of the units would have balconies.
Unlike the existing building, which has no setback from the sidewalks, Kalian’s would provide “modest” setbacks, Garber said. It would trimmed in landscaping, and the fifth floor would be set back an additional distance.
Balconies would not extend beyond the property line, and stair-and-elevator towers that rise to 60 feet would not be visible to someone standing out front on Mechanic Street, Garber said.
“We think it’s a handsome-looking building,” he said.
Cars would enter and exit the residents-only garage via fob-activated openings on Globe Court. McKenna said the building would not eliminate any street parking on Mechanic Street, and would add a quick-drop spot on the Globe Court side, with the elimination of a right-turn lane, if that suggestion passes muster with the police department and borough council.
The plan also faced scrutiny over the adequacy of the proposed 1.5 parking spots per dwelling unit, whereas the borough requires 1.8.
Neighbors and other audience members did not get to comment on the proposal Thursday night. They’ll likely get that chance October 20, following expected testimony by a planning expert for Kalian.
But questions to Garber, as well as to Kalian’s engineering and traffic consultants, also reflected concern about the proposed building’s height and parking supply.
Tom Sabella, a Middletown resident who owns 11-17 Mechanic Street, next door to the site, said it would block the “nice views” of his third-floor residential tenants.
“I assume there are other people here who’s views are also going to be impeded,” he said.
“I would argue simply, with all due respect, that we could build an as-of-right building of four stories here and it would block your views just the same,” Garber replied.
“Development is something that brings a certain amount of change,” he said. “There’s going to be a building built here one way or another following the guidelines set by the municipality.”
Hudson Avenue resident Mary-Ellen Mess said the building’s 104,000 square feet of floor area means “you’re going to have a lot more apartments sending a lot more cars” into nearby streets.
Kalian’s traffic consultant, John McCormack, contradicted that assertion. He said the apartments would generate half the traffic attributable to the single-story Globe Court Professional Building, which now occupies the site. It is home to several small businesses, including Feather & Line Hair Studio, a dental practice and a mortgage office.
With estimated peak-hour vehicle movements of 10 in the morning and 20 in the evening, McCormack said the project’s impact on traffic would be “imperceptible.”
Kalian also built the Forum, a four-story, 24-unit project located directly across Mechanic Street from the site. McCormack said counts there showed actual usage of the parking lot of 1.1 cars per unit one day and 1.3 another.
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