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RED BANK: BON JOVI WARMS UP CENTER

jon bon jovi, red bank, nj, Jon Bon Jovi at the ribbon cutting for the Hope & Comfort Warming Center, at 166 Shrewsbury Avenue, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank nj warming center 166 shrewsbury avenueWith a surprise snowstorm hinting at the need, a new ‘warming center’ for homeless men opened in Red Bank Thursday.

The warmup act for the ribbon cutting? None other than pop superstar Jon Bon Jovi.

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RED BANK: HAMPTON INN WINS APPROVAL

Peter Steck, a planner hired by an opponent of the proposed hotel, testified that the developer was “stuffing” the one-acre site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly seven years of battles, a proposed hotel at the northernmost entrance to Red Bank won approval Monday night.

The planning board’s OK of a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge came after a last-minute concession by the developer.

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RED BANK: HOTEL ANTAGONIST RETURNS

larry-cohen-rbank-hampton-121916Rbank Capital managing partner and would-be Hampton Inn developer Larry Cohen at Monday night’s planning board hearing with an architect’s rendering of the hotel. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A hotel developer’s long and contentious battle to build a 76-room Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway grew longer more contentious Monday night.

It also got a bit deja vu-y when, for the second time in the plan’s six-year history, its chief antagonist, lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, returned, claiming once again to represent a client with legal standing to challenge the plan.

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RED BANK: WILL HAMPTON INN GET THE KEYS?

hampton-inn-112116HOT-TOPIC_03Will a new hotel finally get the keys to Red Bank? After almost six years in litigation and other delays, a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn proposed on the former site of a Exxon station at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge could go to a vote Monday night.

But first, the plan must overcome the objections of at least one planning board member, who has warned that the hotel’s traffic plan is dangerously flawed to the point that “someone is going to die” if it’s allowed.

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RED BANK: SITE IDEAL FOR HOTEL, SAYS MENNA

vna-176-riverside-120716The VNA’s departure could put its headquarters building on the tax rolls. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The VNA Health Group is quitting Red Bank, leaving behind a large empty building that could wind up on the tax rolls of a borough whose officials complain often about the high number of nonprofits.

Heck, it would even make a great hotel, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: HOTEL ACCESS PLAN CRITICIZED

hampton-inn-112116An architect’s rendering of the proposed Hampton Inn, as seen from Riverside Avenue, with the existing VNA building at right. (Rendering by Louis Silverstein. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

After years of litigation and other delays, a proposed Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway returned to the borough planning board Monday night — and quickly ran into opposition.

Board member Guy Maratta sharply criticized a plan to allow vehicles to turn left into the Route 35 site across two lanes of southbound traffic that he said averages 60 miles per hour.

“Somebody is going to die, mark my words,” Maratta told the traffic engineer for the applicant, Rbank Capital.

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RED BANK: HAMPTON INN RETURNS

hampton inn 062016Architect Lou Silverstein with a rendering of the proposed hotel, at center above, as seen from the Middletown side of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

Almost six years after it was first proposed, a Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway remains nothing more than an abstraction, existing solely as mountain of engineer and litigation documents.

The developer hopes to finally turn it into a seven-story reality.

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RED BANK: APARTMENT PLANS TO BE HEARD

denholtz 080416 18HOT-TOPIC_03Two apartment projects — one next to the train station and the other in the heart of downtown — are scheduled to be heard by Red Bank land use regulators this week.

The first, by Denholtz Associates, would create a 45-unit mixed-use building with a parking garage extending from the taxi dispatch office on Oakland Street the office building shown above, on Chestnut Street.

The proposal is slated to be heard by the planning board tonight at 6:30 p.m. For more details, see redbankgreen‘s coverage from August, when the plan was filed. Read More »

RED BANK: HOTEL PLAN RETURNS, SORT OF

hampton inn 062016Architect Lou Silverstein with a rendering of the proposed hotel, at center above, as seen from the Middletown side of Cooper’s Bridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

The developer of a proposed Hampton Inn hotel that’s been mired in zoning reviews and lawsuits for five years returned to Red Bank’s planning board after an extended absence Monday night.

The purpose? An informal presentation. A “coming attractions” preview of amended plans, in the words of the board’s attorney. Read More »

RED BANK: WEDDING WALK RETURNS SUNDAY

wedding walk 032215 2Wedding Walk participants checking their itineraries during the 2015 edition of the annual event. Below, sidewalk markers indicate shopping routes. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE:  The concluding reception of this event is now scheduled for 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.]

wedding walk 032215 4For prospective brides and grooms (and brides and brides, and grooms and grooms), it’s the most significant set of steps this side of that “walk down the aisle” — the annual Red Bank Wedding Walk, the 2016 edition of which renews its vows on Sunday.

Showcasing the products and services of more than 40 area businesses, it’s a real-world, real-time stroll through all the borough has to offer committed couples, from dress shops, confectioners and florists to salons, jewelers and photographers. And Red Bank, as befits its status as a “one-stop shopping destination,” is ready once again for its close-up on the first day of Spring, 2016.

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RED BANK: COURT BACKS HEIGHT CHANGE

hampton inn 040913The seven-story, 76-room hotel would be built on a one-acre riverfront property adjacent to Cooper’s Bridge, seen here from the Middletown side of the Navesink. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

A 2013 change to the building height limits in Red Bank’s waterfront development zone did not constitute “spot zoning,” even though it benefitted a planned Hampton Inn a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Instead, the appeals court upheld a Superior Court decision that found the changes “were enacted as part of a comprehensive plan to advance the general welfare of the community.”

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RED BANK: HAMPTON HOTEL PLAN REVIVED

gasiorowski 072512Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski, who has sued to block to the hotel, examines a rendering at a 2012 hearing. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

Five years after it was proposed and nearly two years after it was derailed by litigation, a planned Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway is back.

But the controversial plan is still in court.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? COMFORT FOOD W/ RIV VU

120414 potpieChicken pot pie at the International Bar in the Molly Pitcher Hotel. Below, the pot pie scooped out of its baking dish. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

120414 potpie3The days of the Mad Men-style two-martini lunch have been over for decades, but there is a staunch holdout in Red Bank where you can still enjoy this throwback indulgence if you have the luxury of time.

With wood-paneled walls, carpeted floor, and a beckoning fireplace creating a dark, masculine, club feeling, the International Bar at the Molly Pitcher Inn makes a terrific traditional martini. A sense of luxurious comfort abounds, and the bar’s menu of standard American choices adds to that feeling of well-being.

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SEA BRIGHT: LIFELONG HOME REBUILT

20140617-181947.jpgDesiree Pierce, who lost her lifelong Sea Bright home to Hurricane Sandy, celebrated the completion of its rebuilding by volunteers Tuesday. Pierce, at center above with son Junior, helped Shareefah Taylor of Americorps, one of the volunteer organizations involved in restoring the New Street house, move a cake to the fridge. (Photo by John T. Ward. )

RED BANK WINS HOTEL HEIGHT CHALLENGE

gasiorowski 072512Attorney Ron Gasiorowski, above, has repeatedly challenged a proposed six-story Hampton Inn on the site of a former filling station, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hampton 1 031812The long-running saga of a proposed Hampton Inn at Red Bank’s northern gateway took a turn this month with a win by the borough in court.

In an April 7 decision, Superior Court Judge Thomas Scully in Freehold rejected a challenge to a 2012 zoning change that raised the building-height limit at the proposed hotel site, at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper Bridge.

The decision, unless overturned on appeal, is expected to clear the way for the hotel’s developer, Rbank Capital, to return to the planning board with the most significant hurdle to the plan nullified.

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RED BANK: WEDDING WALKERS BRAVE CHILL

rb wed walk 033014 5rb wed walk 033014 2Some 215 soon-to-be-married couples and their attendants endured a wet, chilly few hours Sunday for the latest edition Red Bank Wedding Walk, which puts the services of several dozen wedding vendors on display. A trolly and a hot beverage made the going a bit easier for one participant, above.

The event, the first since a Superior Court ruled last October that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage, attracted a number of same-sex couples, including a set of grooms-to-be who won one of the event’s prizes, according to officials at Red Bank RiverCenter, the organizer.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: VOLUNTEERS START HOME REHABS

sb st bernard 1 032614Americorps volunteers painting the framework of Desiree Pierce’s home Wednesday to encapsulate any lingering mold. Below, Pierce and daughter, Gigi Burke, have been displaced from their home since Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb gigi desiree 032614People who’ve never been through something like Hurricane Sandy don’t understand, says Gigi Burke.

“They don’t understand losing everything,” the 23-year-old Sea Bright resident said. “And then, they don’t understand the process and steps it takes to get back into your home.”

In the 500-plus days since Burke, her two siblings and their mother lost use of their New Street home to the surging Shrewsbury River and Atlantic Ocean, she’s heard “the question” from people who’ve temporarily put her up more than once.

“It was basically, ‘when are you leaving?’ but in a nice way,” she said Wednesday, amid of a flurry of rebuilding activity finally getting underway at her home.

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RED BANK: CHIN UP, IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON

flavour-2Small plates, but lots of ’em, at Holiday Flavour this Thursday evening. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

Red Bank’s top chefs will be out in full force this week to make sure your bathroom scale doesn’t see your pre-Thanksgiving weight for at least another few days.

The second-annual Holiday Flavour event at the Molly Pitcher Inn, scheduled for 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Thursday, spotlights chefs from more than 20 of the Green’s most popular restaurants serving up small plates of favorites off their dinner and dessert menus. Read More »

RIVERCENTER AWARDED $20K TOURISM GRANT

scavone-lynn-mass-052313Who’s that behind those Tourism Grants? Left to right, Red Bank RiverCenter’s Jim Scavone and Amanda Lynn are pictured with Visitors Center director Margaret Mass at a May 2013  Red Bank Flavour event. (Click to enlarge) 

Press release from Red Bank RiverCenter

Red Bank RiverCenter, in conjunction with the Red Bank Visitors Center, was awarded a $20,000 Cooperative Marketing Grant for 2014. The grant, available to organizations throughout the entire State of New Jersey, was applied for through the New Jersey Department of Tourism in June 2013, and will be used to expand Red Bank’s award-winning advertising campaign, “Escape for a Little While.”

The ad campaign will reach Washington, D.C., Connecticut, New York State, Pennsylvania, and Canada to encourage tourists and visitors to visit and stay in Red Bank, as well as the entire Jersey Shore.

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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: CONTROVERSIAL HOTEL RETURNS

A Hampton Inn hotel is proposed for the long-vacant Exxon station site at the foot of the Cooper Bridge.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s back.

After a year of dormancy, a controversial proposal for a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn hotel at the northern gateway to Red Bank returns to the spotlight Monday night, when the borough planning board begins anew with what’s expected to be another series of hearings.

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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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BOONDOCKS LOBSTER SHACK WILL BE BACK

Hundreds of food lovers turned out at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank Thursday night for a fundraiser to help Kelly Ryan rebuild her Hurricane Sandy-damaged restaurant, Boondocks Fishery. The Navesink Business Group organized the event, with participation by restaurants under the Red Bank Flavour umbrella.

Ryan, who had already raised $8,000 toward her $30,000 goal on indiegogo, told redbankgreen that sheetrock went up in her lobster shack – located on the Navesink River adjacent to Marine Park –  earlier Thursday, and she’s shooting to reopen May 14.

The Oyster Point, too, was knocked out by the October 29 storm, returning to normal operations in February. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: BRIDAL SURGE REPORTED

Once again, brides-to-be, accompanied by female attendants and the occasional fiancé, flooded the streets of Red Bank for the annual Wedding Walk extravaganza Sunday. The RiverCenter-orchestrated event highlights goods and services available in town, from banquet halls to photo framing.

Among the hundreds of participants was Alyssa Hopkins of Piscataway, who said she came away with “lots of ideas” for her big day and was delighted to find a shop that would rent table lanterns for her wedding reception, sparing her a costly purchase. “What am I going to do with 200 lanterns?” she said. (Click the embiggen symbol to enlarge the photo display.)