By Danny Murphy Jr.
Having lived on the west side of Red Bank, known as the Arts and Antiques District, for most of my life and being in business here 43 years, I have seen the transition of both the Downtown District and the A&A District through a number of changes.
We have gone from Dead Bank to Hip Town and from an empty factory and buildings from World War I to the Galleria with five restaurants, the Two River Theater and the rebirth/renovation of the Count Basie Theatre. With 43 years in business and living in Red Bank all of my life, I have lived with changing times.
We are about to embark on a major transformation in the A&A District as the building of the West Side Lofts is about to begin. This project has been planned since 1998, was finally approved in 2006 with litigation from one local attorney holding up the project for two years. The economy delayed it for another four years. Finally the construction will begin in a few short weeks.
The West Side Lofts will have 91-rental apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail and a brewpub. Add to that 10 restaurants, two theaters, 125 antique dealers, the A&A District will become a major destination for people from Manhattan, Staten Island, North Jersey and, of course, Monmouth and Ocean counties. Red Bank will now have two distinct districts to make Red Bank a destination of choice.
Almost immediately the need for a parking program is mandatory as the parking area between the Two River Theater and Danny’s will no longer be available. For almost a year we have had five “parking project” meetings with about 17 people representing the town, the developers, RiverCenter, the Visitor’s Center, the Two River Theater, Count Basie and local restaurants. The outcome or goal will be to inform the public that the entire area has parking available now and will be enhanced over the coming months.
The railroad station will become a major destination with the Red Bank police adding foot patrols during peak traffic hours. The Anderson and Sommer’s properties on Shrewsbury Avenue are being converted to a managed day- and night-parking area accommodating more than 150 cars.
There is also the parking garage on West Front Street, between Pear and West streets, which can be used. The Galleria has parking to accommodate its offices and restaurants.
A valet parking system is now in place on Bridge Avenue for Danny’s Grill and Wine Bar and the Two River Theater. Valet parking will be expanded in a timely fashion to include the entire district. The Borough of Red Bank Parking Utility is painting parking line spaces throughout the area, relining existing spaces and creating some new ones, on all streets that are available for parking. Signs, explaining the parking situation during the construction of the West Side Lofts project, will be displayed on the construction site fencing.
RiverCenter is developing a new two-sided map that will show the districts on one side and all the parking space/areas for the entire town.
Soon, a smartphone application will be available to show visitors a map detailing parking locations. That information also will be available on the Web.
I have long advocated that Red Bank has a parking perception problem and that the parking is available because of the borough’s two parking garages and hundreds of parking spaces. They are just not well-identified.
God willing and with the help of the Red Bank Borough Council, RiverCenter and parking committee, our parking program for the entire town will be up and running within a very short period of time.
Danny Murphy Jr. is the owner of Danny’s Grill and Wine Bar on Bridge Avenue, Red Bank.