RETURN OF THE RIVER’S EDGE

rivers-edgeWork on a condominium project at the end of Bank Street has stopped while the developer seeks a change of plans. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When Red Bank’s zoning board meets tonight, it will hold a public hearing for final site plan approval on a West Side development that already has the board’s OK. Construction even started, too.

Huh?

That’s what some people are saying about the return of the RW @ River’s Edge condominium project. And not many know why.

Read More »

NO SIZZLE YET, BUT STEAK IS COMING

bayshoreFor years it was Bayshore Charlie’s, but soon this River Road establishment will be dishing out fare of a different kind. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You may have recently traveled through Fair Haven’s main drag and wondered: What’s going on behind those plywood walls and scaffolding?

Jeremy Poon says he’s asked that question just about every day.

Poon, who co-owns No. 1 Chinese Restaurant next door to the site, which was home to Bayshore Charlie’s fishery for about two decades, says people are curious and excited to find out just what’s happening in the square brick building at 603 River Road.

So, what does he tell people?

Read More »

NOW OPEN: GOOD, SAFE KARMA

good-karma1-072810Tiffany Betts, left, and Gail Doherty preparing meals for customers who showed up minutes after Wednesday’s opening. (Click to enlarge)

good-karma2-072810

The much-anticipated return to Red Bank of vegan restaurateurs Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts is complete.

Months later than they’d hoped, the pair quietly opened the doors to their new eatery, Good Karma Café, at 4p Wednesday, and quickly found themselves hustling up orders for a half-dozen hungry customers.

Read More »

OOPS: IT’S NOT HISTORIC — YET

80-efront-red-bankThe lot, at the corner of East Front and Washington Streets, has been vacant since a Victorian home was demolished in 2005. (Click to enlarge)

Last week, redbankgreen reported that a Monmouth County architect had met recently with historic preservation advocates in Red Bank about building a four-unit condo project on a vacant lot at the corner of East Front and Washington streets.

The meeting was a courtesy call of sorts. Brendan McHugh, a Manasquan-based architect working for an unidentified prospective buyer and developer of the site, sat down with members of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission to give them a heads-up and get early feedback on the plan. He hadn’t, and still hasn’t, filed any formal proposal with the town.

The commission plays an advisory role in land use issues involving properties in the Washington Street Historic District, and the lot McHugh was targeting was in the zone.

Or so everyone at the meeting thought.

Read More »

TALK OF TOWNHOUSES IN HISTORIC DISTRICT

washington-stAn architect has drawn up plans for townouses for a vacant lot in Red Bank’s historic district, but nothing has been filed with the borough. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A vacant lot in Red Bank’s historic district could become the site of townhouse-style condos if informal plans now in the works gel.

Brendan McHugh, a Manasquan-based architect, has drawn up plans for a four-unit project at the corner of East Front and Washington streets, and recently made an informal pitch about his plans to the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Read More »

COUNCIL APPROVES SANDWICH BOARD SIGNS

hot-topic rightRejecting the advice of the borough planning board, the Red Bank Council last night said merchants may put sandwich-board advertising on sidewalks outside their establishments through the end of this year.

Overruling concerns that the signs would pose a safety hazard to pedestrians and violate the intent of the borough’s master plan, the council voted 5-1 for an ordinance permitting free-standing signage, which they said is needed to help stores attract customers in a difficult economy.

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN TREE LAW GETS ANOTHER LOOK

zoe-gallagher12-year-old Zoe Gallagher made her case to the borough council Monday night to amend Fair Haven’s tree ordinance. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven is looking at revising its tree ordinance, and is doing so after a push from an unlikely source: a 12-year-old borough girl.

Zoe Gallagher, who made waves last month after a dozen trees were chopped down across the street from her Poplar Avenue home, Monday night asked the borough council to amend its ordinance in a way that she thinks will offer more protection for trees in town. After hearing her make her case, the council moved to introduce the amended ordinance and send it along to the planning board for review.

Read More »

RUMSON PLANS TO RAZE FORMER POLICE HQ

rumson-pd-0707101The property will be sold as two building lots, officials say. (Click to enlarge)

By EVAN SOLTAS

With its new municipal complex completed, Rumson plans to demolish its historic Center Street police station and sell the land as two residential lots, borough officials say.

The borough intends to raze the now-vacant station, which has long stood out among its residential neighbors, and sell the land as building lots that conform to residential zoning law, according to Mayor John Ekdahl.

In the process, the town hopes to pocket as much as $400,000 from each, and use the proceeds to pay down debt incurred from relocating police headquarters, officials said.

Read More »

COURT ORDERS MORE BEACH ACCESS AT CLUB

sb-beach-club-071110The club was the last holdout defendant in a lawsuit dating back four years, and lost. (Click to enlarge)

A state Superior Court in Freehold has ordered the oceanfront Seabright Beach Club to give nonmembers access to more than 15 feet of beach above the tide line.

The state Department of Environmental Protection, which filed suit against the club, the borough and eight other private clubs in 2006, announced the ruling on Friday.

Read More »

TRADER JOE’S PLANS SHREWSBURY STORE


The specialty food store has filed plans to take over more than 12,000 square feet in Treasure Island Plaza, according to a report.

After a brief dalliance with Red Bank three years ago, Trader Joe’s, a foodstore chain with a reverential following, appears to have settled on Shrewsbury instead.

So reports the Asbury Park Press, which says the California-based company has filed plans to take space in the Treasure Island Plaza shopping center on Route 35, next door to Staples.

Plans on file with the borough indicate Trader Joe’s will take over three existing storefronts to create a 12,026-square-foot store, the Press reports. No estimated opening date was reported, and a company spokeswoman told the newspaper she could no confirm the information.

But don’t expect to find bottles of Two-Buck Chuck there. The store won’t have a liquor license, the Press says.

Read More »

ANOTHER COURTYARDS PLAN WINS VARIANCES

light-mass-marks-070110As Ray Mass (background) and Deborah Marks listened, zoning board member Vincent Light details his objection to granting variances for the proposed Courtyards at Monmouth housing project, below. (Click to enlarge) courtyards-at-monmouth

Less than a year after a new zone was created at Red Bank’s train station to encourage a mix of high-density housing and retail activity, the borough zoning board last night greenlighted a plan that could put even greater density, but no stores, on a vacant Monmouth Street lot.

The move, on a 5-2 vote, was driven by a desire to see something built on a lot frequently described as an eyesore and the belief that adding retail space in a town with numerous store vacancies was the wrong way to go, said board members who favored he plan.

“Yes, it’s a very dense project,” said board chair Lauren Nicosia. “But this is a property that hasn’t been developed and that Red Bank needs to be developed.”

Read More »

FH COUNCIL TAKES FLAK ON TWO ISSUES

fh-overlay-meeting2

More than 50 residents filled the borough council chambers Monday night for a chance to be heard on two separate hot-button issues in town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven officials got a double helping of discontent Monday night when a riled crowd pushed back on two issues residents say threaten the borough’s way of life: tree chopping and senior housing.

Following the recent decimation of trees on Poplar Avenue, neighbors laced into the council for not giving them notice that the 12 trees would be cut down and for allowing the property owner to take an ax to Fair Haven’s cherished scenery.

They disputed the effectiveness of the borough’s tree ordinance, yelled that the council was wrong to allow the trees to be cut down against the advice of the shade tree commission.

But an increasingly contentious plan to create an overlay district so a local developer might build age-restricted homes generated even more bile.

Read More »

A BIT LATE, FAIR HAVEN GIRL TESTS TREE LAW

zoe-gallagherZoe Gallagher, 12, in front of the Poplar Avenue property where trees are being cut down to make room for two houses. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

By last Wednesday, Zoe Gallagher figured it might be too late. By 7:30a Saturday, she was sure.

That’s when she was awakened by sound of trucks and chainsaws. Looking out her window, the 12-year-old knew that there was no chance she’d be able to save the dozen trees that were about to be cut down across the street.

Zoe, who is the president of the environmental club at Knollwood School, was a step behind in her fight for the doomed trees on Poplar Avenue. She hadn’t learned of their impending demise until Wednesday, the day after the home builder, Spencer Foxworth, won an appeal to cut down the trees in order to make room for two new homes on the property. He had previously been denied permission by Elizabeth Lilleston, chairwoman of the shade tree commission and Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer.

“So what’s the point of having a tree ordinance?” Zoe asked, as she watched workers load trucks with tree limbs and brush. “It’s like there isn’t any. You just waste a day presenting the case because you’re going to get it anyway.”

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN HOUSING PLAN DRAWS BACKLASH

senior-housing1Developer Kevin Hughes, right, watches Fair Haven’s council meeting as neighbors voiced complaints over his proposal to add age-restricted housing in town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s facing kind of a conundrum, says Mayor Mike Halfacre, of the Fair Haven council’s role in weighing an informal proposal for age-restricted housing in the borough.

On the one hand, the council has been asked to create an overlay district to allow higher densities in a neighborhood just off River Road, a move that might in turn fill a longtime need in town for more housing for the borough’s senior population.

But doing so carries the potential of leaving a bad taste in the mouths of neighbors.

Even though the proposal from builder Kevin Hughes is in what Halfacre called “step A, minus one,” some neighbors are already hoping to derail it. At a Tuesday morning meeting specifically relocated to the borough’s youth and senior center in order to accommodate the older population, area residents obliged with a solid half-hour of bristling to the council.

Read More »

BUILDER COMPLETES HISTORICAL CONVERSION

leroy-houseA nine-month renovation project on LeRoy Place has just wrapped up. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Charlie McCague wasn’t looking for a fight or a hassle from anybody. Even standing well over six-feet tall, he comes across as a benevolent guy, his soft Irish brogue offsetting his intimidating stature.

But a hassle of sorts what he got after he bought a long-vacant Victorian at 28 LeRoy Place in Red Bank last year and presented plans to convert it into office space, McCague admits, hesitantly.  Some neighbors griped about the idea, and the planning board, which had to approved the change in use, wasn’t uniformly in favor of it, either.

The argument was that the home should stay strictly residential and maintain its historical qualities. A conversion, opponents said, would promote “creeping commercialism” into the area, which is partially  zoned for residential and professional office use. Councilwoman Sharon Lee called it “an assault on our historic homes.”

Still, McCague narrowly won approval to make the conversion, and now that work has just wrapped up, the only sign of creeping commercialism appears to be in the back, where a handicapped parking sign is staked in the ground.

Read More »

YMCA SUES BOROUGH OVER PLAN DENIAL

ymca1The Community YMCA says the zoning board rejection was capricious. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As expected, the Community YMCA has filed a lawsuit against Red Bank’s zoning board for its decision to not allow the Y to nearly double the size of its Maple Avenue facility, putting the nonprofit at odds with the town on two legal fronts.

The suit, filed on May 18 in state Superior Court in Freehold, says that the board’s resolution denying the Y’s expansion plan “lacks a factual basis for its negative findings and provides nothing more that conclusions unsupported by fact or applicable land use law, ” and therefore makes the board’s decision unreasonable.

The Y is seeking to reverse the zoning board’s decision and win approval of the variance applications and site plan. It is also asking for compensation for the cost of the suit and whatever other relief the court deems just.

Read More »

LITTLE PROJECT, BIG IMPACT, BUILDER SAYS

roger-mumfordRoger Mumford has plans that he says will transform part of the West Side. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

On the corner of Bridge Avenue and Cedar Street sits a tan-colored, nondescript building that, if not for a couple of cars parked in the lot, could easily be mistaken for another one of Red Bank’s vacant spaces.

With just a couple of windows and minimal signage, 247 Bridge doesn’t at all look like the nerve center of an operation that might spark a transformation of the rundown area that adjoins it.

But Roger Mumford, a 54-year-old home builder who commands the happenings inside the office, has big plans for the stretch of Bridge from Cedar to Drs. James Parker Boulevard. The Little Silver resident has approvals to knock down four existing homes, plus a corner bodega, and rebuild the site from the ground up with a new bodega and five luxury homes.

You read that right. Luxury homes.

Read More »

SILVER LINING AT LITTLE SILVER CORNER?

wicker-rose-texaco-lsBoth the former Wicker Rose building,  foreground, and the abandoned Texaco station in the background have “substantial” environmental issues. (Click to enlarge)

Three adjoining Little Silver properties with the taint of fraud and pollution go on the auction block tomorrow.

The whiff of financial chicanery comes from their connection to Solomon Dwek, the Ocean Township real estate investor-turned-federal-informant, who acquired them as part of a massive $400 million real estate roll-up scheme studded with allegations of bank fraud. That was before Dwek agreed to wear a wire and bribe elected officials snared in a statewide public-corruption sweep last year.

The underground pollution is literally traceable to one of the three properties, a former Texaco filling station, as well as from other sources, says real estate marketer Ray Smith, whose firm will conduct the auction.

Read More »

HOV POSTS ANOTHER QUARTERLY LOSS

Img_9341Hovnanian’s headquarters overlooking the Navesink River at Maple Cove. (Click to enlarge)

The misery isn’t over at Red Bank-based national homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, despite a brief return to the black two quarters back.

The company reported a net loss of $28.6 million in its second fiscal quarter, which ended April 30,  compared with $118.6 million loss a year earlier.

In its first quarter, the company was profitable for the first time after more than four years of losses. Hovnanian has now lost money in 14 of the last 15 quarters.

Read More »

COAL & FEED BUILDING DEMOLISHED

26_shrewsburyThe former Hance Coal & Feed building on Shrewsbury Avenue, seen above in 2008, was razed earlier this week, below. (Click to enlarge)

galleria-coal

A landmark barnlike structure on Red Bank’s West Side is no more.

The former Hance Coal & Feed building on Shrewsbury Avenue was taken down earlier this week by Sourlis International, owner of the Galleria at Red Bank, which plans to expand a surrounding parking lot on the site.

Read More »

PLAN TO TRANSFORM WEST SIDE BLOCK OK’D

lincoln-sq-050610Roger Mumford discusses his plan at Thursday’s zoning board hearing. Below, a view of the homes to be built along the east side of Bridge Avenue; the current site of a bodega on the corner of Drs. Parker Boulevard is at right. (Click to enlarge)

A sweeping plan to overhaul one of Red Bank’s most dilapidated blocks won approval from the borough zoning board Thursday night.

Builder Roger Mumford’s plan calls for bulldozing four run-down houses on Bridge Avenue between Cedar Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, plus a corner bodega.

In their place, and stretching east along Parker to the existing Bergen Square condo complex, will come five spanking-new luxury residences — and a new corner storefront that may house the same bodega, assuming the tenant wants to return, Mumford says.

“Bridge Avenue is a great place,” he tells redbankgreen, noting the presence of the Two River Theater, the Galleria at Red Bank and other attractions nearby. “Now, more of Bridge Avenue is going to be part of that excitement.”

bridgeave-050710

Read More »

BANK SAYS STORES WOULD DOOM PROJECT

courtyards-at-monmouthRobert Cogan, architect for the Courtyards At Monmouth proposal, gives his segment of the three-hour testimony to the zoning board Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Representatives of the bank looking to build 57 residential units on a desolate corner of Monmouth Street have no doubt that if they get borough approval, their project will be a success in Red Bank.

They’ll just have to wait to find out if they can even step on the path toward approval.

After three hours of testimony from a handful of lawyers and experts representing the property’s owner, Amboy Bank, the zoning board short-circuited the group’s pitch for the evening and continued the hearing until next month.

Read More »

BANK AIMS TO UP ITS RETURN ON MONMOUTH

courtyards-1-040710A subsidiary of Amboy Bank is seeking approval for an all-residential project at the corner of Monmouth and West streets, below. (Click to enlarge)

courtyards-2-040710On the agenda for a special meeting of the Red Bank zoning board tonight: yet another plan for a major development on the site of a former filling station on Monmouth Street.

Yep, that same place at the southeast corner of West Street that was the subject of not one but two prior approvals in the past seven years, neither of which resulted in so much as a shovel going into the ground.

Amboy Bank, which now owns the property, wants to build townhouse-style apartments there under the name Courtyards at Monmouth. So why not just dust off the approval won by Rumson’s George Coffenberg, who relinquished the project to the bank shortly after getting his approval for a project, also dubbed called Courtyards at Monmouth, in early 2008?

Because in the interim, Red Bank’s governing body changed the zoning laws and included the property in a so-called “train station overlay” zone that allows for buildings up to 50 feet tall and densities of up to 35 dwelling units per acre, up from the prior limit of 25.

Read More »

CORNER TALK WITH CROSSON

crosson1

Russ Crosson has submitted early plans to build a small strip mall at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Russ Crosson had reasons to give up on Red Bank’s West Side a long time ago.

Growing up on Chapin Avenue in the ’60s, a period of racial tension and civil unrest, his childhood wasn’t entirely the stuff of warm, fuzzy feelings.

“I used to get beat up almost every day,” he said. “I’d get held against the fence and get my lights punched out. I’d get snowballs shoved down my mouth.”

But some 40 years later, Crosson is still hanging around the West Side, and with plenty of fond memories of the area he grew up in. And it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere soon.

The 52-year-old building contractor is on track to infuse some life into on one of the most underutilized corners in town: a grassy lot at the intersection of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, not far from where Crosson was force-fed snowballs as a kid.

Read More »