RED BANK: GARAGE CONVERSION NIXED

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank homeowners who long to transform their garages into living space: take note. The borough zoning board  summarily nixed a plan to convert a garage behind a Maple Avenue office building into a single-family home Thursday night.

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RED BANK: PARKER OFFICE TO GET NEW LIFE

A rendering shows the proposed look of 175 Shrewsbury Avenue as seen along East Leonard Street, at top, and from Shrewsbury Avenue. (Rendering by Michael Monroe. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After years of neglect, the longtime office of beloved father-and-son Red Bank physicians, Drs. James Parker Sr. and Jr., was cleared for rehabilitation by the zoning board Thursday night.

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RED BANK: APARTMENTS, RETAIL ON AGENDA

The boarded-up house at 175 Shrewsbury Avenue would get first-floor retail space if the owner’s plan is approved. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE: The October 5 zoning board meeting on these two applications has been cancelled.]

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s zoning board is scheduled to hear proposals for two West Side properties Thursday night.

One would revive a boarded-up house on Shrewsbury Avenue, and the other would add four apartments to what’s now a two-family house on River Street.

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RED BANK: STATION APARTMENTS OK’D

Architect Nelson Benavides discussing plans for 170 Monmouth Street, seen in in two renderings from the west. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A plan to turn a five-story office building opposite the Red Bank train station into rental apartments cleared its first hurdle at the borough zoning board Thursday night.

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RED BANK: STATION APARTMENTS PLANNED

A builder’s proposal calls for converting four floors of the five-story building to apartments, plus an addition with 16 more units, directly across Monmouth Street from the borough train station. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One of Red Bank’s more prominent office buildings would be converted to apartments — and get new ones out back — under a proposal by a Jersey City-based developer, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: DONATED HOUSE COMING DOWN

rb 27 linden 012417doug-cavanaughTwo years after the death of its owner, the house at 27 Linden Place in Red Bank is slated for demolition this week.

Doug Cavanaugh, seen at right in 2009 painting a hitching post he installed outside the house, left the property in his will to Saint James Roman Catholic Church, whose schools he’d attended.

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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. )

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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SEA BRIGHT RISING TO HELP REBUILD HOMES

sb elevations 4 060513Sea Bright homes being elevated last June. Officials estimate 80 percent of the town’s homes are still vacant. Below, Chris Wood, flanked by Pete Forlenza and Zack Rosenburg, addresses a gathering in Rumson Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb rising 022514Sixteen months after the churning Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River met on Sea Bright’s streets in the fury of a hurricane, the borough is still something of a ghost town, said Chris Wood.

Yes, the business district has seen a welcome comeback. “But 80 percent of the homes on the side streets of Sea Bright are still vacant,” said Wood, a co-founder of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit that has raised and distributed close to $1.3 million in donated funds to some 300 families and 17 businesses in town since Hurricane Sandy hit.

Now, though, Sea Bright Rising is partnering with another nonprofit born in the aftermath of a hurricane, with the goal of rebuilding as many as 100 homes in Sea Bright, Rumson and Highlands – at no charge to those homeowners.

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RED BANK: SEEKING EQUALITY, THEN AND NOW

rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

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PESTICIDES MISUSED IN HOUSING UNITS

rbha 021114The Red Bank Housing Authority office at Evergreen Terrace. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection slapped a Neptune pest control business with more than $500,000 in fines and costs last week over its use of dangerous chemicals in homes and restaurants, including public housing apartments in Red Bank.

Zapp Termite and Pest Control was fined $495,000 and had its pesticide applicator licensed yanked for what the DEP said was repeated misuse of chemicals near food; for applying pesticides intended for outdoor use only indoors; and for failing to alert tenants of the presence of the pesticides.

“While we have not received any reports that anyone was directly harmed, the manner in which Zapp misapplied these pesticides had the potential to expose people to harmful levels of these products,” John Giordano, the DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement, said in a prepared statement dated last Friday. “To make matters worse, the firm repeatedly failed to provide consumers with required safety information that is designed to ensure their safety when these products are used.”

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SEA BRIGHT BEGINS LOOKING TO 2020

Borough residents at Monday night’s 2020 session, where FEMA planner Linda Weber, below, took notes. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The scene: a public brainstorming session at Sea Bright’s borough hall.

The purpose: to begin shaping what’s expected to be a long-range process to address housing and commercial needs both in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and in anticipation of another such walloping.

With the floor opened to observations, one woman raised concerns about vacant homes attracting prowlers.

A man’s suggestion that all the utility poles along Ocean Avenue be removed drew a smattering of applause.

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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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RED BANK: GRANDVILLE GETS HALF A LOAF

Grandville Towers resident Jane Manning asks a question of the Rent Leveling Board last Thursday night (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Red Bank’s Grandville Towers Grandville Towers is getting glass railings, but not a new pool – not at the tenants’ expense, at least.

Thursday night, the Rent Leveling Board went line by line over PRC Management’s proposal for $3 million-plus worth of work at the 10-story apartment building, which the applicant sought to have covered by rent surcharges.

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RED BANK: GRANDVILLE UPGRADES DETAILED

Tenants Sonia Walker, left, and Jennifer Lugo-Walker study the project plans for the 10-story apartment building, below. (Photo above by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

About 30 residents of Red Bank’s Grandville Towers highrise turned out for a special meeting of the borough Rent Leveling Board Wednesday, anxious about renovation plans and their effect on rents.

Tom Arnone, vice president at he PRC Group, the building’s manager, presented an overview of the the work that – pending RLB approval of rent surcharges – would be done in three phases expected to last a total of about 14 months, starting in September.
Because PRC is still seeking quotes for the work, the surcharges may vary from present estimates, said Arnone, who also serves as a member of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

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SEA BRIGHT DROPS ‘UNWORKABLE’ FEMA FIX

Flip-flops over coverage of homeowner repair costs prompted town officials to withdraw from a pilot program, they said. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Frustrated by bureaucratic waffling, Sea Bright officials pulled the borough out of a federal program aimed at quickly getting residents back into their Hurricane Sandy-damaged homes Tuesday night.

Town officials cited indecision and flip-flops over what would be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Sheltering and Temporary Electric and Power, or STEP, program as the main the reasons for the withdrawal.

“The goal was to get the residents home,” said Mayor Dina Long. “We thought the STEP program would be very helpful in achieving that goal, but ultimately it turned out to be unworkable.”

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SEA BRIGHT ON THE RISE, HEIGHTWISE

Ed Wheeler’s house on Ocean Avenue is the first to have been raised since the hurricane. Many more are expected to be lifted under pending changes. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Sea Bright homeowners will have some wiggle room under new building codes hashed out at back-to-back council and planning board meetings Tuesday night.

The pending changes, expected to be adopted by the council February 5, are aimed at eliminating red tape for property owners whose houses might exceed overall height restrictions after they’ve been lifted to comply with the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s advisory base flood elevation levels, town officials said.

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HOV STUNNER: A PROFIT

Hov_hq_81206Hovnanian’s Red Bank HQ, as seen from the foot of Maple Avenue.

Hovnanian Enterprises surprised Wall Street with news Wednesday that it’s most recent fiscal quarter was a profitable one.

Bloomberg reports that the Red Bank-based homebuilder’s net profit of $1.8 million, on a 52-percent surge in sales, was “unexpected.”

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A PORTION-CONTROLLED SIDE OF ZEET

zeet-peabody-1Zeet Peabody, executive chef at the new JBJ Soul Kitchen, which features crisp design inside and a vegetable and herb garden out front. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

soul-kitchen1The star power at Wednesday’s opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank belonged, of course, to the restaurant’s main sponsor, Jon Bon Jovi.

But while the the telegenic pop star may continue to volunteer his time washing dishes at the Monmouth Street pay-what-you-can eatery, patrons will be on intimate terms with Zeet Peabody, the restaurant’s executive chef.

Along with his kitchen crew and wait staff, he’s the one who’ll be there most of the time. More importantly, he’s be the one who’ll decide what goes onto the plates, and how those dishes will elevate the eatery to destination status.

After all, this is “not a soup kitchen,” Bon Jovi said at the opening. With its knife-sharp appearance, it doesn’t look like one. And the people behind it don’t want it to function as a dole for the down-and-out. The goal, they emphasized, is to make it a restaurant for all, no matter what’s in the customer’s wallet.

So amid the hubbub of the opening, redbankgreen isolated Peabody – who’s been a personal chef and consultant since closing his Bistro Zeeto in Atlantic Highlands a decade ago – for a few minutes to get his input. Here’s our quickie interview.

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LOFTS PROJECT SEEKS PARKING REDUCTION

ws-lofts-081811A view of the proposed West Side Lofts, at the southeast corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue. Project principal Chris Cole, center below, speaks with Red Bank Antiques Center owner Guy Johnson during a break in the hearing. (Click to enlarge)

cole-johnson-081811After five dormant years, a plan for a massive mixed-use development on Red Bank’s West Side is back, slightly scaled down and headed for a possible tangle over parking.

Dubbed MW West Side Lofts, the project is slated to include 92 luxury rental apartments, street-level retail, live-and-work artists’ spaces, a parking garage and a Triumph Brewing Company restaurant – all configured in a horseshoe around Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar, at Bridge Avenue and West Front Street.

Approved by the borough zoning board in 2006, the plan was back before the board Thursday night over proposed changes that would raise the height of the five-story structure cut down the size of the pub. But it would also eliminate 51 parking spaces, raising early concerns among board members.

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COURTYARDS PLAN GETS CLOSER ONCE-OVER

courtyards-2James Hulsizer with a depiction of the planned Courtyards at Monmouth. Below, an architect’s rendering from last summer. (Click to enlarge)

courtyards-at-monmouthRed Bank zoners held the first of what is expected to be a series of hearings on the details of a proposed 57-unit housing development on a neglected stretch of Monmouth Street Thursday night.

GS Realty, the unit of Amboy Bank that owns the site, is seeking a long list of variances, from building heights and setbacks from the street, in order to clear the way for the so-called Courtyards at Monmouth project.

Last July, byt a 5-2 vote, the zoning board granted a use variance for what members called “a very dense project” in a new train station zone formed to attract high-density housing and retailing, though the plan calls for no stores. At the time, those in favor cited a desire to jump-start construction on the 1.24-acre property, which is also bounded by West and Oakland streets.

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