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RED BANK: VACANT DOWNTOWN GEM GETS RESTAURANT OK

 

The Doremus building has been vacant since 2012.  Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By BRIAN DONOHUE

Red Bank’s zoning board of adjustment gave its final, formal stamp of approval to a plan for a three-story restaurant with a rooftop deck in a long vacant downtown Red Bank building – although the applicant conceded the restaurant is “hypothetical’ because there is no actual tenant as of yet.

 

Known as the Doremus building since 1921, the terracotta-faced structure at 21-23 Broad Street was sold for $4 million last October by Rick Stavola to a limited liability company associated with Jennifer and Marco Savo of Lincroft, according to business records. Marco Savo appeared before the board seeking several variances to do  a gut renovation, facade restoration and add a third-floor outdoor deck and garden at the rear of the building, where two stories now exist.

The board had voted at its May 17 meeting to approve the application and granted the final resolution of approval, largely a formality, Thursday. 

The building has been vacant since the departure of Agostino, a furniture store, in mid-2012. Savo said he was attracted to buy the building eight months ago at least in part by the broadwalk pedestrian plaza which he said had created a “restaurant row” along that section of Broad Street. 

“It feels like you’re in Europe,’’ he said. 

He vowed to create a “classy” establishment with “none of the riff riff” associated with night clubs or bars. His attorney John Anderson said the unnamed restaurant would ideally service alcohol, which would require the acquisition of a license.

But pressed by board members he conceded the business plan is still a hypothetical until a tenant is secured. 

Savo said at the May 17 meeting he will not operate the restaurant and that he would be looking for a tenant to operate.

“We are talking to some tenants,’’ he said.

Ed O’Neill, architect representing the applicant, said a long strip of ribbon windows on the second floor would be replicated on the third floor where a current row of “double hung” windows represent a “bastardization” of the building’s architectural style.

“That was the style back in the 1920’s” he said of the ribbon windows.

Savo agreed to scrap an earlier plan to obscure the name “Doremus” on the building and instead highlight it in black paint against a restored white facade.

The plan needed variances for parking, because there is none available on the lot. Under zoning laws, the restaurant would have to provide 143 spaces. The site had already been approved for a variance of 88 spaces under a 2019 plan to create a jazz club that never opened.

“There’s parking within a block or two in both dircections,” O’Neil said. He also noted that almost none of the restaurants in the vicinity have off street parking to conform with zoning requirements. 

Board member Paul Cagno, who had peppered the applicant with questions about the lack of parking, logged the only “no” vote. On Thursday, the board officially approved the resolution of approval.

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