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RED BANK: HOSPITAL TO RAZE ‘UNSAFE’ BUILDING

A temporary fence has screened off the building, at 103 East Front Street, since mid-May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Another building owned by Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank is slated for demolition, redbankgreen has learned.

The hospital has indicated it wants to replace the tax-exempt structure, at 103 East Front Street, with a parking lot, according to filings.

Map shows Hackensack Meridian’s real estate holdings in Red Bank as of February, 2021; click on the green markers for tax status and other details. (Google Map from Monmouth County property records.)

Three days after a December 10 fire call, borough inspectors visited the vacant, two-story building and found it “unsafe,” noting that the roof was “leaking excessive amounts of water” and black mold was “growing throughout” the structure, according to an enforcement notice.

Because of rainwater flowing through the roof, the electricity was shut off and the fire alarm could not be repaired, the report said.

The building department ordered Riverview to demolish the structure within 60 days, by February 12.

But that hasn’t happened. Construction Official Tony Neibert told redbankgreen that “the hospital asked for more time to go out to bid and to discuss with zoning and their management on what to do next with the property.”

Records show that Riverview, part of the 17-hospital Hackensack Meridian Health network, applied March 17 to create a 7,300-square-foot parking lot for 23 vehicles on the site. But Community Planning Director Shawna Ebanks denied the application, on the grounds that a variance would be needed to proceed.

A borough response to a redbankgreen Open Public Records Act request Thursday included no subsequent filings by Riverview.

In a prepared response to redbankgreen questions, the hospital said Friday that demolition “is scheduled to proceed once all necessary utility shutoffs have been completed” by Jersey Central Power & Light and New Jersey Natural Gas.

But the statement did not address whether the parking lot plan is still in the works. A variance request has yet to show up on a zoning board agenda.

The property, acquired in 1987, is one of several owned by the hospital that is exempt from property taxes. Click the above graphic for information about Riverview’s holdings.

The building, with a see-thru breezeway overlooking the Navesink River, is the third hospital structure in recent years to face a wrecking ball.

Next door, at 95 East Front, is a grass-covered, fenced-in lot where Riverview razed a Victorian mansion in December, 2020. Across the street is 96-98 East Front, a corner lot where Riverview razed several buildings in May, 2020; the lot has since been landscaped.

Both those sites are taxed.

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