By John Burton
RED BANK – A long delayed project intended for Mechanic Street will move forward but different than first proposed.
Riverwalk Commons Red Bank LLC, which first won approval from the borough Planning Board in March 2006, received a second approval Oct. 4 from the zoning board of adjustment for plans to construct a 24-unit residential development for 24-30 Mechanic St.
The plans call for an elevated structure with one- and two-bedroom units on the second through fourth floors and parking on the ground level, according to Anthony Busch Jr., the project architect.
Initially, when the project was proposed by the architect’s father Anthony Baczbuski Sr., a Red Bank property developer known locally as Tony Busch, the plan called for a five-story structure with the first floor dedicated for either retail or professional office use and an underground parking garage.
That project never was begun, Busch Jr. said, partly because of the overall economy, a lessening demand for retail and office space and the cost associated with constructing the underground garage.
“Retail was not a viable part anymore,” Busch said.
The garage alone would have cost in excess of $1 million – “maybe more,” Busch said, because of some additional work that would have had to be done to the neighboring Independent Fire Company at 32 Mechanic St. to brace the firehouse for the garage construction.
After winning initial approval for the project, the developer requested and received an extension for the approval in February 2008.
“We were really close to going into the ground,” Busch said. “Thankfully, we pulled the plug right before,” it began.
Nancy Adams, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, the business alliance for the borough’s commercial special improvement district, said by way of email, the organization supported the revised plan. “It’s a much different time” than when first proposed and it might be difficult to attract retailers to a side street that may not get much in the way of foot traffic, she said.
Originally, the structure was to have solar panels on the roof. The revised plan now has a rooftop garden and deck space for building residents.
“The board really liked that,” feature, Busch said.
The seven-member board voted unanimously to approve the application, said Donna Smith Barr, the borough’s planning and zoning director.
The Mechanic Street site now has a two-story masonry building containing a music studio, catering business and storage facilities for a bedding and sleep shop. The structure will be demolished to make way for the new construction.
“We’ll hopefully get started soon,” probably late spring 2013, Busch said, with construction taking from 8 to 18 months to complete.