RED BANK: MURPHY ‘PAUSES’ INDOOR DINING

Patrons of the Dublin House in Red Bank gather at its outdoor Temple Bar on June 20. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Tapping the brakes on his economic restart effort, Governor Phil Murphy indefinitely postponed a planned resumption of indoor restaurant dining Monday.

The move is “prudent” in the face of rising COVID-19 infection rates in other states, Murphy said at his daily briefing on the pandemic.

He also cited “overcrowding, a complete disregard for social distancing, [and] very few if any face coverings” at some New Jersey bars that he did not name.

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RED BANK: PLAZA DETAILS STILL IN THE WORKS

red bank monmouth street 060220Monmouth Street between Broad Street and Maple Avenue would become a pedestrian plaza all day on Sundays as part of a recovery plan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njDetails for turning two downtown Red Bank streets into part-time dining and shopping plazas hinge largely on pending clarity from Trenton, borough officials said Tuesday.

On a Zoom/conference call with merchants, borough officials said they need information from Governor Phil Murphy on key issues before they can finalize plans for allotting sidewalk and street space among restaurants, retailers and others.

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RED BANK: STREET CLOSINGS FOR DINING OK’D

red bank broad street 032720Broad Street would be closed from the intersection with Front Street, above, to Wallace Street three nights a week under the plan. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njTwo major streets in the heart of downtown Red Bank would be closed to traffic to allow mid-street dining and shopping under action taken by the borough council Wednesday night.

The economic recovery measure needed lightning-fast approval so the business district “can to be ready the second we get the call” from Trenton about expected loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, said Councilwoman Kate Triggiano.

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RED BANK: DINING ‘PLAZAS’ ON THE TABLE

Customers dining in the sidewalk seating area of Robinson Ale House on Broad Street in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank officials have formed a committee to “creatively expand outdoor capacity for restaurants and retail sales” as the town embarks on a post-COVID-19 recovery.

One idea the committee is expected to chew over: use of public spaces for outdoor dining.

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RED BANK: PICKUP PARKING ZONES SET

red bank pickup parking 051820Downtown shoppers will be able to park in designated spots for quick pickups from restaurants and retail stores throughout town. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

park it 2020

With merchants starting to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown, Red Bank officials unveiled a temporary parking plan Monday aimed at helping them regain an economic toehold.

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RED BANK: NEW YEAR, FAMILIAR FACES

The young son of new fire department Chief TD Doremus makes a beeline for his dad at Tuesday’s swearing-in. Below, Councilman Mike DuPont takes the oath of office, administered by former mayor Ben Nicosia, left, and joined by his mom, one of his children and former mayor Ed McKenna. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An air of status quo dominated as Red Bank officials completed their annual reorganization of the borough government on New Year’s Day.

“Art and I ran to continue the progress you’re seeing,” Councilman Mike DuPont told a packed council chambers, referring to fellow council member and 2012 running mate Art Murphy, after each was sworn into office.

Mayor Pasquale Menna, too, spoke of continuing to build on what he characterized as improvements in the town’s economic foundation, arts profile, recreation facilities and more.

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METROVATION KILLS ANDERSON PROJECT

The developer has officially abandoned its approval for condos in the former West Side warehouse – temporarily serving as a display location in the ‘Heads’ outdoor art installation – but plans a “creative” repurposing of the site, says a partner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Anderson building and the West Side lofts: they were to have been fraternal twins anchoring nearby corners in Red Bank, injecting an instant, upmarket demographic into a part of town that could use a nudge to reach its potential as an arts and nightlife mecca.

Now, however, as one half of that twosome finally nears an official start, the other one has been nixed.

At last Thursday’s meeting of the borough zoning board, developer Metrovation officially abandoned its six-year-old approval for 23 condos and two street-level stores in the former Anderson Brothers Moving and Storage structure at Bridge Avenue and Monmouth Street, citing poor economic conditions.

At the same time, company officials sought, and won, a minor lot-line change that they said would enhance whatever new plan might follow.

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AGOSTINO, T. BERRY SQUARE PACKING IT IN

Agostino Antique’s home, at 21 Broad, is expected to have a new owner soon. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Downtown Red Bank’s economic recovery is not without its setbacks, as evidenced by two imminent departures from Broad Street.

After months of advertising a clearance sale, Agostino Antiques is planning to pack up its remaining merchandise in the next couple of weeks and shut its doors by the end of June, a principal in the company tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

Just two blocks to the south, Jennifer Quinn Payne is winding down her children’s clothing and furnishings store , T. Berry Square, to devote herself to motherhood.

Meanwhile, two doors away from T. Berry, and under the same roof, Hip & Humble Home has a for-lease sign in the window, but they’re not talking.

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DOWNTOWN RED BANK COMES OFF THE ROPES

The recent opening of Lucki Clover, above, in a Broad Street space vacated last September, is seen as one of many indicators of a strengthening comeback.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Without question, the losses have been significant.

Over the past six months, as the global, national and regional economies have struggled to emerge from the wreckage of the 2008 credit meltdown, Red Bank’s retail market has continued to absorb hard-to-shake-off business departures.

Primas Home Cafe. Willy’s Cheesesteaks. Soapmarket. Later this month, Surray Luggage, a Broad Street fixture, will hold a liquidation sale.

But more so than in the recent past, the downtown real estate market has been marked by two noteworthy trends: faster refilling of storefronts, and the end of several key, longtime vacancies.

What’s it all add up to? In a word, recovery, says at least one downtown Churn watcher.

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MONMOUTH STREET: COCOON EMPTIES OUT

rema-josephRema Joseph closed her Monmouth Street women’s clothing and gift store on Sunday. (Click to enlarge)

Rcsm2_010508Rema Joseph had hoped to hang on until the end of the year.

Then it became a matter of making it at least until the end of month.

But a paucity of customers willing to open their purses  spelled an expedited end of her Red Bank clothing and accessories store, Cocoon.

Joseph shut out the lights one last time on Sunday, ending an eight-year run and joining the continual churn of businesses downtown.

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THE BEEB TAKES RUMSON’S ECONOMIC PULSE

bbc-rumsonJerry St-Cyr of Rumson Market Place is spotlighted in a BBC report on the state of the U.S. economy. (Click to enlarge)

Britain’s BBC News turned its lens toward Rumson last week for a report on the American business landscape, and finds that soaring prices for fuel and food have slowed the economic recovery in recent months.

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BALLEW BIDS ADIEU TO RED BANK

ballew1Ballew Jewelers closed its doors Saturday, 124 years after opening in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Ballew Jewelers is now a Red Bank memory.

After 124 years, the downtown landmark, known as much for its ‘lollipop’ clock on the sidewalk as its cases of diamonds and Rolex watches, closed its doors Saturday, leaving a hard-to-believe void.

“It’s sad,” Kate Ballew said. “You can’t picture anything else in here.”

But something else will be, eventually, she said.

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RED BANK TRIES ON A SHORT-TERM RENTAL

syndicated-111610Syndicated Clothing moved into Red Bank on a temporary basis, but wants to make the borough a permanent home. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The idea isn’t particularly new in the world of retailing, especially around holidays: a store sets up in a vacant space for a few weeks or months, does some hasty business, and then makes a planned exit.

But in Red Bank, the pop-up store phenomenon now has a twist, with the addition of Syndicated Clothing to West Front Street. Rather than packing up and leaving after a stated period, the store’s owners are hoping a short-term lease will give them a toehold on a permanent place in town.

If landlords are amenable, short-term leases could not only fill some of the empty storefronts in town, but more importantly, could help jumpstart economic activity, says Nancy Adams, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, which promotes the downtown.

Problem is, not all landlords are into it.

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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.

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BIZ WATCH: WHO’S COMING, WHO’S GOING

dscf3010The lauded Broad Street Filling Station ran out of gas in Red Bank. And it wasn’t alone. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rcsm2_010508The continuing trend in downtown Red Bank: good news mixed with not-so.

First with the bad: A few more businesses have been picked off by the slumping economy since redbankgreen last took the temperature of downtown businesses.

The good: Potential tenants are looking to snag some of those vacant spaces, we’re told, and a couple of businesses are either opening up or expanding in the borough.

At the north end of Red Bank’s main vein, Broad Street, the Firehouse Specialty Shop is having a what-do-we-do-next moment. Firehouse, customers know, has occupied the back end of 24 Broad for years while the niche boutique The Bee’s Knees filled out the front floor and dressed up the windows with lots of Jersey Shore apparel and women and children’s clothes.

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KABOOM NEEDS BIG BUCKS, BUT WILL GO ON

kaboom-riversideContributions on the day of the show put the 2009 KaBoom fireworks barely into the black, but this year’s edition needs more public support, organizers say. (Click to enlarge)

Independence Day fireworks in Jersey City, Chicago and other major cities have already been canceled, and may yet be doused in Montclair, Bloomfield and elsewhere.

But Red Bank’s KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink display, one of the nation’s largest and most elaborate, will light up the sky as scheduled, weather permitting, organizers insist.

Like relatives of Johnny Jazz, however, they find themselves fighting persistent rumors of the event’s demise.

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RUMSON BEGINS READYING FOR ITS REGATTA

victorypark

A view of the Navesink River from Victory Park in Rumson, where many spectators will watch the 2010 Dad Vail Regatta. County officials have OK’d viewing from Oceanic Bridge. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Down in Philly, they’re crying a river and pointing fingers over the loss of the Dad Vail Regatta to sleepy little Rumson, New Jersey.

But in Rumson, which snagged the regatta last month from its Schuylkill River home of 56 years, officials are scrambling to organize a weekend-long sporting event that could bring 15,000 people to a town without a single hotel room and no structured seating along its riverfront.

They’re also taking steps to capture as much as possible of the of the millions of dollars in tourism-related spending the event throws off.

They can’t do it without outside help.

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RED BANK TO BIZ OWNERS: STAY OPEN LATER

biz-closed11

Some merchants think too many downtown stores are closed at night. This photo was taken late Tuesday morning. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna has ramped up his campaign get downtown business owners to stay open later.

He says the effort did not begin with last week’s Broad Street debut of Urban Outfitters — a clothing and housewares store that’s open from 11a to 9p Monday through Saturday and 11a to 8p on Sundays. But Urban is doing business the right way, Menna says, and he’d like to see more merchants follow suit.

“Retailing has changed, our society has changed and Red Bank is changing,” he said.

Given Red Bank’s amenities, with its bevy of late-night hot spots like bars and entertainment venues, it has always made more sense that many businesses, especially retailers, keep the lights on and the doors open after dark and on Sundays, Menna says.

But examples of missed opportunities to hook visitors are plentiful, he says citing two from last summer, when the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, and later the Taste of Red Bank, drew thousands of visitors who found limited shopping options because stores weren’t open later or on Sunday.

“The businesses that succeed are the ones who are available when people are on the street,” Menna said. “We don’t have the luxury of shoppers out at nine in the morning. It’s a change in our society and sometimes we have to change our business model to keep our competitive edge.”

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URBAN SPARKS HOPE AMONG STORE OWNERS

urban-watchers2An unidentified Urban Outfitters employee checks out a window display as a pair of passersby does the same Tuesday night.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two young women rounded the corner of Broad Street Monday night and headed left on West Front Street, their eyes fixed on a retail medley going on behind the tall glass windows.

The twentysomethings behind the glass were putting the finishing touches on display racks and examining the trendy looks of mannequins that just days ago lined the store’s inner perimeter as nothing more than nondescript plastic molds.

“I’m so excited for you, Urban Outfitters,” said one of the women as she looked into the window before disappearing from West Front’s sidewalk.

Given the Philadelphia-based giant’s international success, it’s no surprise there might be consumers chomping at the bit for Urban to open it’s doors to the public on Thursday. But on the periphery of Urban Outfitters’ enchanting mass of real estate at 2-10 Broad Street, there’s a contingent that can match the public’s excitement and trump it with hope — Red Bank’s small business owners.

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URBAN OUTFITTERS PLANS 10-HOUR JOB FAIR

img_44361022091Windows and doors were installed recently on the store’s site at the corner of Broad and West Front Streets.

The scaffolding that encloses the sidewalk is still up, but bit by bit, the temporary plywood sheathing has been coming down, giving passersby a peak into what many regard as the best hope for an economic rebound in downtown Red Bank.

We’re talking about the big new Urban Outfitters clothing and household goods store scheduled to open sometime next month at 2 Broad Street.

Company officials did not respond to a messages seeking verification that the store will open November 19.

But the company’s website has some promising news for jobseekers in the retail sector.

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