CIAO, BASIL’S. IT’S ‘BIRRAVINO’ NOW.

091014 birravino ralloVictor Rallo in the bicycle-decorated atrium of Birravino. Below, one of the long communal, or feste, tables in the dining room.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091014 birravino5The Old World charm of Basil T’s Brew Pub is gone, along with its popular mug club, where members had personalized mugs hanging at the bar. Remodeled and repositioned as Birravino, however, the Red Bank trattoria is just as welcoming, warm and suds-friendly as its predecessor.

Nursing a broken leg from a running accident, Victor Rallo showed up earlier this week to make sure everything was running smoothly after a makoever that included completely restructuring and redecorating his Riverside Avenue institution in about a month. Before some customers even realized  the restaurant was temporarily off-line, a new name was on the building and the changes were well underway, he said.

The result? “I wanted an industrial, rustic look like you see in the trattorias or osterias of Italy,” he told PieHole,  amid the exposed brick walls, honed wooden tabletops, galvanized metal seats and an open kitchen. “Definitely something more casual” than Basil’s, he said.

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RED BANK: PARTY OUT BACK AT STATION PLACE

rb station pl 081914 1rb station pl 081914 2For weeks, it’s looked like a giant version of Thomas Edison’s ‘Black Maria,” a hulking four-story monolith of funereal blackness taking up half a block of Monmouth Street in Red Bank. But things are a lot less dour on the other side of the Station Place apartment complex under construction, as the photo at right shows. Developer Roger Mumford tells redbankgreen the project will be completed by late November, when leasing will begin. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

SANDY HOOK: LIGHTHOUSE TURNS 250

sandy hook lighthouse 070113Sandy Hook boasts the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States, one that predates and had a role in the American Revolution.

On Saturday, June 11 14, the National Park Service is throwing a birthday party of sorts for the lighthouse, now 250 years old. The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature family-friendly activities, including musket drills for kids, historic reenactments, games and talks by lighthouse experts, including park historian Tom Hoffman. There’s no charge for admission or parking.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

CHURN: PUMPING NEW LIFE INTO FRONT

danielle buccellato 042214Danielle Buccellato in her new fitness studio, Renaissance Pilates. Below, the facade of the long-empty Love Lane Tuxedos is about to get a makeover. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

25 w front 3 050214Pretty much equidistant from the northern end of Broad Street in Red Bank, two new businesses are revitalizing long-dormant storefronts on East and West Front Streets.

To the east, Renaissance Pilates has taken a chunk of space in what used to be Kislin’s Sporting Goods.

And on West Front, a decade of disuse and dilapidation is being reversed for the Red Bank Design Center, a furniture-and-finishes showcase to serve the interior design trade.

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RED BANK: STATION WORK IN FINAL PHASE

rb station 1 050814The long-awaited restoration of the Red Bank train station, named for late mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Dan O’Hern, is on track to wrap up by late August, New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said Thursday. Included in the $1.6 million project are the replacement of the slate roof, repairs to the clapboard exterior and historically accurate restoration of windows and gingerbread trim. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT ISSUES: LIBRARY, REDEVELOPMENT

sb council 011614Engineer Jackie Flor of T&M Associates discusses the impact on a parking lot paving project necessitated by the demolition of the Sea Bright Public Library. The dormant borough school building, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb school 011614Overlapping concerns about beachfront development, the future of the crumbling former school and the demolition of the public library dominated an issue-heavy meeting of the Sea Bright council Thursday morning.

Mayor Dina Long, who had opposed tearing down the library until a proposed combination library and bathing pavilion could be built, defended Saturday’s hasty demolition, but acknowledged that “perhaps it could have been handled in a different manner.”

“it was certainly no secret that that building was going to be abandoned after the last council meeting,” on December 17, she said at a crowded council workshop session. “But my concern going forward is that members of our own community felt there was a lack of transparency” about the timing of the action, which gave rise to conspiracy theories that are now “driving a wedge between” elected officials and residents, she said.

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JOURNO’S RED BANK HOME IN SPOTLIGHT

rb fortune house 3 061213T. Thomas Fortune, below, will get a month of honor in February. Meantime, efforts to save his home on Doctors Parker Boulevard continue. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

T. Thomas FortuneNo sharp elbows were thrown. The words ‘Maple Cove‘ weren’t even mentioned.

In her first working session as a member of Red Bank’s otherwise all-Democrat borough council Wednesday night, Republican Cindy Burnham‘s debut act was to introduce a resolution designating February as T. Thomas Fortune Month in the borough.

The anondyne measure won unanimous approval, and opened up a discussion of where things stand with the house that Fortune lived in a century ago.

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RED BANK: PATRIZIA’S, CARLO’S WIN OKS

patrizia's 120213 4A rendering of the proposed Patrizia’s, which would occupy the onetime Merhant’s Trust Company at 28 Broad Street, seen at center below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

primas 070512A restaurant that will add 198 seats to downtown Red Bank’s fast-growing dining landscape sailed through to unanimous planning board approval Monday night.

The review took less than 15 minutes.

By contrast, a hearing on whether to allow the newly opened Carlo’s Bake Shop, of Cake Boss fame, to have two tables with eight chairs went on for 90 minutes, mainly because of objections over the impact on a parking lot out back.

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IN FAIR HAVEN, A HAVEN FOR THE HANDMADE

dave melanie stewart 100913Melanie and Dave Stewart in their new art gallery/retail store, Handmade Haven. Below, t-shirts repurposed as skirts. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

homemade 1 100913The world is awash in mass-produced sameness. Do we really need any more?

A month-old shop on River Road in Fair Haven posits an alternative. Handmade Haven was conceived as an “artisans’ and craftsmens’ retail gallery,” says Melanie Stewart, who owns the business with her husband, Dave.

Everything on its tables and walls is not only handmade, but produced locally, they say.

Think of it as “kind of an Etsy on Main Street,” Melanie tells redbankgreen, referring to the online market for craftspeople and other makers. “We give them a Main Street platform for their work.”

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RED BANK: STEEPLE CRACK SHUTS CHURCH

tower hill 1 103013The 61-year-old steeple, which rises to 128 feet from the ground, has a failing timber inside, a church official says.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tower hill 2 103013A cracked timber in the steeple has forced the temporary closure of the landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank.

Borough officials ordered the church and an adjoining school closed Tuesday morning after structural engineers could not rule out a catastrophic collapse of the 70-foot tall steeple, said construction official Stanley Sickels.

“In these situations, you either get to see it before it collapses or after,” he said. “There’s no way of knowing” what might trigger a failure.

The discovery prompted the shutdown of the Tower Hill School, as well as the relocation of Sunday services and community group meetings that serve hundreds of congregants and visitors each week, church property manager Rob Wallman tells redbankgreen. It could also derail a wedding planned for next week.

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MIDDLETOWN: PLAYERS PLAY ON AT LIBRARY

reading roomThe former library, newly rebranded the Navesink Arts Center, is transformed into a spacious reading room and reception area for Monmouth Players productions. Below, Lori Renick (left) co-stars in the current production of Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’  (Photos by Robert Kern; click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

BrightonBeachIt sits at the relatively quiet corner of Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown Township, on a parcel of land that boasts an ample parking lot and a couple of asphalt tennis courts, a fixture of some hundred years’ standing, in a history-steeped village of Old Stone Churches and Little Red Stores.

And yet, even some longtime residents of the township’s Navesink and Locust neighborhoods might be at a loss to tell you anything about the old Navesink Library.

When Middletown Township Public Library decommissioned its branch locations earlier this year, the library buildings in Lincroft and Port Monmouth were shuttered; their collections and equipment donated, sold or assimilated into the MTPL main branch on New Monmouth Road. Over in Navesink — a tiny one-room facility, with a small but comfortable auditorium in back, that had served as the township’s first library headquarters as far back as 1921 — the books were left to the nonprofit entity that had maintained the historic building for decades, and to the tenant that had called the place home since the 1950s: Monmouth Players.

As the curtain came up on their mind-boggling sixtieth season of productions this fall, the Players found themselves the new stewards of a genuine local landmark — and as theatergoers arrived this past weekend for the opening of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” they entered a venue that’s been reborn and rebranded as the all-new Navesink Arts Center.

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RED BANK: ITALIAN EATERY EYES 28 BROAD

28 broad 070512Last rented by Primas Home Café furnishings, 28 Broad Street is the intended home Patrizia’s, an Italian restaurant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Downtown Red Bank could be getting a sizable new restaurant.

Dubbed Patrizia’s, the family-style eatery would take over the space at 28 Broad Street vacated almost two years ago by Primas Home Café, according a fresh filing with the borough planning department.

Retail Churn also has news about plans for a large greengrocer and 20 homes one block east of Broad Street; a planned relo by a downtown florist; and a seller of high-end used cars revving to come back to town… all after the ‘READ MORE.’

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LITTLE SILVER: FUNDING ARM FOR HOMESTEAD

parker-homestead-2007A nonprofit organization will serve as the fundraising arm for the historic site, which dates back almost 350 years. (Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

A charitable corporation has been formed to help carry out plans to run Little Silver’s historic Parker Homestead as an educational facility, according to borough officials.

The plan is for a foundation to raise funds to carry out the Parker Homestead mission, said Councilman Dan O’Hern.

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RED BANK: MAN AT WORK

Pierro Eliano 0909913Piero Vescio, general maintenance man at the Galleria at Red Bank for 23 years, repairs wooden a structure on the property in beautiful late-summer weather Monday. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: CHURCH HALVED FOR A TRIPLING

Contractors have sheared away more than half of the original 1886 Holy Cross Church in Rumson as part of a massive remodeling that will boost the number of seats from the present 220 to 648. Architectural renderings of the planned addition may be viewed here. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: FAMILIAR FACES AT HAMPTON II

Engineer Rich Kenderian testifies for the hotel developer, above. Below, objector Stephen Mitchell reviewing plans. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Parking and stormwater emerged as early issues when the second round of hearings for a proposed six-storyRed Bank hotel got underway Monday night.

The 76-room Hampton Inn would be built at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge, at the northern gateway to town, on the former site of an Exxon gas station. A series of combative hearings on the plan that began in August, 2011 ended nearly a year later with a ruling the structure was too tall.

With zoning rules since amended by the borough council to accommodate the building’s height, the start of round two brought out familiar adversaries – and one new one who, if she was present, did not announce herself or her interest.

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RED BANK: STEEPLE RISING

The cross atop St. James Church in Red Bank Catholic Church is back after six months of rehabilitation. Among other repairs, the replacement of the old cross, which was damaged by a violent wind storm, should be finished by September, said a church business manager Veronica Alexander. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

SANDY HOOK: GOT ANY IDEAS?

A committee is seeking proposals that might save three dozen structures at Fort Hancock. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

With the future of 36 historic buildings in the Fort Hancock Historic Landmark District at Sandy Hook at stake, an advisory committee is asking the public for ideas for future uses of the properties.

The Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee, established by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012, met last Friday to discuss a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to assess the possibility of saving deteriorated buildings that overlook the Sandy Hook Bay in the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The RFEI, issued by the National Park Service, invites individuals, government agencies, for profit and not-for-profit organizations to submit ideas for the re-use of the buildings in ways that benefit the community, maintain the serenity of Sandy Hook and preserve its rich history.

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NEIGHBORS OPPOSING RED BANK WALGREEN’S

Melissa Grieves, seated at right, addresses neighbors concerned about the planned redevelopment of the former Rassas car lot, below, into a mega-drugstore.  (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

A proposed Walgreen’s drugstore on Broad Street in Red Bank would be a bitter pill, say nearby homeowners, who’ve begun to organize for a fight.

About 30 residents of the quiet neighborhood between Pinckney Road and Rumson Place gathered in a Little Silver backyard over coffee Saturday morning to strategize a response to the proposed mega-pharmacy, at the site of the recently-closed Rassas auto dealership.

“I was stunned and extremely concerned,” organizer Melissa Grieves of Salem Place said in an email to redbankgreen. “As a neighborhood, we are concerned about not only our property values, but also the potential for additional car traffic through our quiet streets, as well as lighting and noise concerns, amongst other issues.”

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