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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: TWO D.I.Y. SIGN SHOPS OPEN

Joanna Rapuzzi in her newly opened AR Workshop, at 43A Broad Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Do-it-yourself rustic signmaking is now the latest thing in downtown Red Bank, with the recent openings of two franchised workshops downtown.

 

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RED BANK: ‘CAKE BOSS’ BAKERY CLOSES

Carlo’s Bake Shop posted a small notice of closing on its door Tuesday or early Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Five years after it was opened by television baking star Buddy Valastro, Carlo’s Bake Shop in Red Bank has closed, redbankgreen has learned.

The unannounced shutdown comes just four months after a new investor in the business said there was no plan to leave town.

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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: PUPPY MILL LAW WITHDRAWN

The owner of Bark Avenue Puppies on West Front Street had threatened to sue the borough if it enacted the proposed ban on dogs supplied by breeders. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After seven months of controversy, Red Bank’s proposed ban on the sale of “puppy mill” pets was withdrawn over a failure to win council backing Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: PLANNING AND ZONING AGENDAS

The planning board is scheduled to resume its hearing on a proposed new building at 96-98 West Front Street, at the corner of Maple Avenue. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s planning board may decide Monday night whether to allow a developer to replace two vacant buildings at a major downtown intersection with a new four-story structure overlooking the Navesink River.

And on Thursday, the zoning board takes up a host of changes sought by the landlord for the Sickles Market Provisions store now under construction.

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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: 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: 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: SIGNS OF CHURN DOWNTOWN

Sonya Cashner plans to open Broad & Brush at 26 Monmouth Street, one of two similar shops coming to town this summer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two businesses that offer do-it-yourself instruction in making rustic signs plan to open in downtown Red Bank this summer.

Yeah, that’s a thing, apparently, part of what one of the new contenders calls a trend in “farmhouse decor.”

Read all about that, and more of course, in this custom handcrafted edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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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: ‘PUPPY MILL’ BILL TABLED

Bark Avenue owner Gary Hager listens as Vyolet Jean Savage speaks in favor of a puppy mill ordinance in January. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council averted, for now, a showdown over a controversial proposed ordinance that would ban the retail sale of puppies and kittens unless they come from animal shelters and rescue organizations.

At its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night, the council postponed a vote on the measure until June 27 to allow for a possible “compromise,” Councilwoman Kathy Horgan told redbankgreen.

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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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RED BANK: DISH TO SET FINAL TABLE

Dish will serve its last entrees and desserts on Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThere will be a changing of the tableware in coming weeks as one restaurant leaves downtown Red Bank and another takes its place, redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has learned.

Also in this edition of Churn: a four-year-old ballet studio is growing by, um, leaps and bounds.

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RED BANK: DOUBTS ON PRESERVATION LAW

Homes along Washington Street, in the borough’s designated historic district, would be affected by the ordinance, as would properties beyond the district’s borders. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Does Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission need more teeth?

The borough’s planning board began chewing on that question Monday night, and seemed not to like the taste of it.

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RED BANK: PUPPY LAW MAY END UP IN COURT

Toy poodle pups at Bark Avenue Puppies in February, 2016. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank’s only puppy retailer threatened to sue the borough Wednesday night if the council passes an anti-puppy-mill law that he said will put him out of business.

“I must ask how much of our taxpayer money are you willing to spend on this unconstitutional ordinance?” Bark Avenue Puppies owner Gary Hager asked the council at its semimonthly meeting. “I’m willing to spend a lot, because I have right on my side.”

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