RED BANK, NJ: Ai yi yi, where to start? 

In a 3+ hour meeting, the Planning Board continued its hearing on the proposed demolition of the former Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) building to be replaced by a new five-story mixed use structure with 210 residential apartments including 9,000sf of commercial space. 

Background

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Back in December of 2018, the borough council had rejected the Planning Board’s recommendation to allow 80 units, not including the required affordable housing units.

The former VNA building is at the foot of the Red Bank - Middletown bridge covering 2.7 acres, and next to one of the busiest traffic areas with its twisting, serpentine dual highway.

To read the original VNA redevelopment plan prepared by CME Associates, click HEREpdf.

The developer, Saxum Real Estate, has several interests in Red Bank including The Vault at 55 Broad Street and 2 – 10 Broad Street where the primary tenant is the retail store Urban Outfitters.

The meeting began with the continued presentation by Landscape architect, Dave Lustberg, CEO of Montclair, NJ based Arterial, LLC.

Bodman Place resident Susan Woodward who previously questioned the removal of a 150+ year old tree located on the former VNA property to make space for the new building.  Lustberg said that, “The existing tree has a critical root zone with a radius of about sixty feet, and you never want to half-save a tree.”

When asked if there was any way for the tree to be saved or moved, the attorney for the developer said, “No.”  See the carousel for a picture of the massive tree and a written inspection report by a licensed tree expert.

Next up was architect Frank Minervini, of MVMK Architect + Design, Hoboken, NJ. 

He explained in detail about the 500sf roof top dog run, saying, “In essence it is an anti-microbial artificial turf with a filtration system underneath it.  The urine will pass through the filtration system and go into the sanitary system.”  The developer will need to get approval from the borough engineer to determine if they want to drain the system in the storm or sanitary system, “But generally speaking that goes into the sanitary system.”

A major point of contention the audience was the public space being located at the corner or Bodman Place and Riverside Avenue (Rt.35 north), where the road curves towards the traffic light and the Red Bank-Middletown Bridge.

Line of sight and barriers were discussed including the placement of bollards but the developer’s representatives said that secured “pebble stone” benches could also act as barriers against traffic.

Alexander Litwornia, a licensed special engineer testified as a traffic witness representing the Colony House apartment buildings.  He went through a litany of subjects ranging from access versus egress points, emergency vehicle access and his opinion was negative on the placement of the public space so close to the busy roadway.

The next meeting which will be dedicated to public comments on the VNA project, is scheduled for Monday, October 7th.

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And please share this article with your friends and family!