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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN ‘VISION’ GAINS FOCUS

Consultant Bill Fontana onstage at the Two River Theater Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Downtown Red Bank is safe, clean and friendly, but it’s got problems with parking, store vacancies and its mix of operating businesses.

Those observations, while perhaps glaringly evident to many, were among the findings of a recent survey conducted for business promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter and revealed Monday night.

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RED BANK: A SECOND CAREER IN OLD JEANS

Kattya Torres at her Union Special sewing machine. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After her job as a wireless telecom engineer vanished in a merger, a Red Bank businesswoman has found a second career in eradicating crotch rot.

Ahem: that is to say, the holes that frequently develop in the groin of old jeans some people simply cannot part with.

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RED BANK: MONMOUTH MUSIC TO CLOSE

Monmouth Music owner Mario DiBartolo plans to open the STEM Music Academy in the space. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Even as he was buying Monmouth Music two years ago, Mario DiBartolo knew he was swimming against the current that has swamped so many small retailers in the past two decades.

Yes, he hoped to retain the Red Bank store’s loyal customers and continue selling guitars and other musical instruments, he told redbankgreen last year. But his investment was really in the Monmouth Street real estate that housed the 30-year-old business, he said.

Now, he’s throwing in the towel on retail.

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RED BANK: COURT NIXES TAX ACTION

The borough’s attempt to revoke Riverview’s tax exemption for two years amounted to a “fishing expedition” in search of justification, the court ruled.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank can’t retroactively revoke the tax-exemption for Riverview Medical Center, New Jersey’s tax court ruled last week.

In attempting to do so, the borough was improperly hoping that a “fishing expedition” in the form of legal action would turn up evidence that the hospital, owned by Hackensack Meridian Health, was being used as a for-profit facility, the court ruled. Read More »

RED BANK: FINAL FADEOUT FOR GUITAR PLANT

Now being developed for townhomes, the lot between Catherine and River streets was once home to the Danelectro guitar factory. Below, a Danelectro with the distinctive “coke bottle” headstock. (Photo above by John T. Ward, below courtesy of Lorie Mouklas. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Without fanfare, a half-dozen factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side were leveled last month, making way for new homes.

Among the structures razed was one that deserves a final flick of the lighter from rock music fans. In the early days of rock ‘n roll, the building at 10 River Street churned out low-priced but distinctive-sounding electric guitars, some of which helped launch the careers of rock superstars such as Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page.

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RED BANK: ANTIQUES BUILDING SOLD

The home of Riverbank Antiques, as seen in 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s antiques district, which took a big hit six years ago, is about to shrink some more.

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RED BANK: RIVERMARK PROJECT APPROVED

The proposed Rivermark building shown above was modified before approval. (Rendering by Michael Monroe. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s planning board gave swift approval Monday night to a proposed commercial and residential building at a key downtown corner after it was downsized.

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RED BANK: RAIN DELAYS MOVIE FEST MURAL

Sunday’s rain forced a postponement to completion of a new Indie Street Film Festival mural begun in Red Bank by area students Friday night. The volunteers will try again next Sunday, according to a post on the festival Facebook page. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Meantime, the National Weather Service forecasts mostly sunny skies and a peak temperature around 89 degrees on the Greater Red Bank Green Monday. But there’s an 80-percent chance of thunderstorms Tuesday evening, which would impact the planned screening of “Cars 3” in Riverside Gardens Park, so stayed tuned for an update. The extended forecast is below.

RED BANK: SAXUM SPREE CONTINUES

Located at Broad and West Front streets, Saxum’s latest acquisition has Urban Outfitters as its sole ground-floor tenant. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A Morris County-based real estate investment firm has acquired one of downtown Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent commercial structures.

The purchase of the home of an Urban Outfitters store by an arm of Saxum Real Estate is the firm’s third major investment in the town in the past 18 months, and the first for occupied space.

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RED BANK: STATION CRAVES DUNKINS

The station at the corner of Newman Springs Road and Shrewsbury Avenue would be razed and rebuilt to include the doughnut shop. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Five years after their plan to add a 7-Eleven to an existing Shell station in Red Bank was shot down, the site’s owners are going back before borough zoners with a new plan: a Dunkin’ Donuts as part of a gas-‘n-go.

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RED BANK CHURN: VEGAN TAKEOUT OPENS

 Good Karma Café’s new takeout shop, Karma 2 Go, at the West Side Lofts. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallA vegan mecca opens a new takeout shop, a framing business consolidates, and a party-services business holds a moving sale…

Read all about all three Red Bank businesses in this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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RED BANK: AFTER SCATHING REPORT, WHAT?

Business Administrator Ziad Shehady in front of the large-screen monitor he uses in staff meetings to track projects. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Now that a scathing review of municipal operations has landed on their desks, what will Red Bank’s leaders do with it?

It won’t go into a drawer to be forgotten, says the newly hired official charged with implementing most of its recommendations. In fact, he says, change is already underway.

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RED BANK: TWO EATERIES AND A ‘WILD EYE’

The Melting Pot features induction heating elements in tabletops to keep the pot contents melted. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A long-closed Red Bank restaurant re-opens, a new one headed by a pair of vaunted chefs announces its debut, and a new retail shop arrives with an intriguing pitch…

All in the latest edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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RED BANK: RIVERCENTER REBOOT BEGINS

Attendees filling out questionnaires at the RiverCenter strategy session at the Oyster Point Hotel Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Amid intensifying competition regionally for business investment and shoppers, Red Bank RiverCenter kicked off a four-month effort to redefine its vision for the downtown Monday night.

About 70 people, most of them merchants, gathered in a ballroom at the Oyster Point Hotel to hear from a consultant on how to determine “what you want this place to look like in 10 years,” as he put it.

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RED BANK: VNA SITE UP FOR NEW HOUSING

The former VNA headquarters building on Riverside Avenue, with the Colony House apartments at right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The massive former VNA Health Group headquarters in Red Bank would be demolished and replaced with multifamily residential housing under a plan in the works, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: RETHINKING RIVERCENTER’S JOB

The downtown promotion agency RiverCenter kicks off a mission review next week, and is seeking public input, its officials say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Through his Monmouth Street store, the Cheese Cave, Steve Catania has been doing business in Red Bank for seven years. And for much of that time, he’s been involved in efforts to advance the interests of downtown retailers like himself.

But if you ask them, most probably couldn’t tell you what Red Bank RiverCenter‘s job really is, says Catania. And that’s a problem, given that it’s supposed to be their advocate.

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RED BANK: MIXED-USE BUILDING WINS OK

An architect’s rendering, below, of the new building proposed for 160 Shrewsbury Avenue, above. (Rendering by Michael Monroe. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank planning board last week approved a mixed-use structure proposed for the site of a home on Shrewsbury Avenue.

Developer Bekim Kosovrasti’s plan calls for the demolition of the existing house at 160 Shrewsbury, at the corner of Earl Street, and replacing it with a 7,500-square-foot, mixed-use structure.

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RED BANK: HABCORE EXPANSION APPROVED

HABcore plans to add a four-apartment addition to the rear of the two-family home it owns at 119 River Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank-based nonprofit housing provider HABcore won approval Thursday night for an expansion plan that would triple the size of a home it owns on the West Side.

The zoning board unanimously OKd the plan to add four apartments to what’s now a two-family house on River Street after several borough residents spoke in favor of it and no objections were raised.

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RED BANK: WAWA MEGASTORE PLAN YANKED

Former Red Bank mayor Ed McKenna, left, grilled Wawa engineer Mark Whitaker over the proposal at a zoning board hearing in March. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[UPDATE: This post contains comments from site ower Frank Sala, who was unavailable at the time of the original posting.]

By JOHN T. WARD

Wawa’s coffee, subs and gasoline prices may have earned it a devoted following, but a controversial plan to build a supersized convenience store and filling station on Red Bank’s southern border has been withdrawn, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: CORNER PROJECT ‘TOO BIG’

The two buildings on the northeast corner of West Front Street and Maple Avenue would be replaced under Mark Forman’s plan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s planning board asked the developer of proposed commercial and residential building at a key corner downtown to make it smaller Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: PARKING, TAXES & MORE

A consultant was hired to conduct a long-awaited parking study following the failure last year of plans to redevelop the White Street lot, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Red Bank council, these things happened:

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RED BANK: RIVERCENTER KICKS IN ON PARKING

The borough council is expected to choose a consultant next week to assess parking needs in downtown Red Bank. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Stalled since the November election, an effort to address parking issues in downtown Red Bank appears about to get back on track next week.

That’s when the borough council is expected to designate a parking consultant, to be paid for in part with funds from Red Bank RiverCenter.

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