Office building proposed for former auto lot



Red Bank — The borough Planning Board Monday heard an application to construction a three-story office building on the site of a former used car lot.

Applicant SRA, West Front Street and Riverside Avenue, is seeking major site plan approval, bulk “c” variances and design waivers for the project.

The application seeks approval for a proposed 19,561-square-foot office building located on the roughly triangular site at the northwest corner of Pearl Street and West Front Street, and fronted by Riverside Avenue (Route 35) to the north.

The property was formerly the site of the Schwartz auto dealership’s used car lot.

Project manager Robert McCarthy, of LGA Engineering Inc., Eatontown, testified that SRA is also the developer of the 85,000-square-foot building proposed for the former Schwartz site, directly to the south.

The project now before the board is designed to complement and be of consistent design with the larger building, according to McCarthy. The streetscape would utilize similar paving materials and patterns.

The building could operate without approval or completion of the larger project, according to witnesses for the applicant, although they described road and off-site work being done in conjunction with the larger building.

The developer seeks variances including front set back and design waivers for parking space deficiencies, parking stall size and front yard parking.

Most of the first level of the structure would house 24 parking spaces including three handicapped spaces. Additional parking for 48 vehicles on the western side of the building.

Leasable office spaces on the second and third floors, each would be approximately 9,100 square feet.

As proposed, the building would be located at the far eastern side of the site. A 15-foot-wide green buffer would minimize the project’s impact on the adjacent residential structures.

Sterling Nielwocki, architect with Hillier Group, Princeton, testified that the lot’s shape dictated the project design.

The architect described a combination of precast concrete, brick and tinted glass for the building’s architectural style, which he said was “hard to characterize.”

Board member Josh Rudolph, also an architect, described the style as “a complete contrast to what we have in Red Bank.”

The building setback from West Front Street would be 15 feet. The project features a 10-by-10-foot green area adjacent to the confluence of Riverside Avenue, Pearl Street and West Front traffic.

Circulation of vehicles onto and off the site would be limited to right in, right out. Not surprisingly, much of the questioning by Planning Board members, and comments from George Whelan, the board’s engineer, focused on parking deficiencies.

Whelan noted that of the 78 parking spaces required by the ordinance, SRA proposed a total of 71, and that only six, including the three handicapped spaces, would meet parking stall width requirements.

The applicant seeks to compensate for the parking deficiency through a monetary contribution to the Red Bank Municipal Parking Utility Fund. SRA also seeks design waivers for turning radii and McCarthy testified that many of the stalls were sized for sub-compact cars and long-term parking.

Whelan said he considered the applicant’s proposed parking “a substantial deviation from the ordinance.” He added that subcompact and long-term spaces “won’t fly, as SUVs are typical.”

Mark Kataryniak, a traffic engineer with offices in Eatontown, prepared the traffic study and acknowledged that SUVs are 6.5 to 7 feet wide.

Board member Dr. Guy Maratta asked the applicant to recalculate the number of parking spaces proposed using the required 9-foot width and by eliminating the tight turning areas that would result from the proposed small-curb radii.

Whelan quickly estimated that 15 to 20 fewer parking stalls would result from reconfiguration of parking to meet the required stall width.

McCarthy estimated parking could be reconfigured to create 64 parking spaces by making all the inside spaces 9 feet wide and by making 40 of the outside spaces 9 feet wide. He also noted that the parking plan relied on public transit, and the urban nature of the area

Kataryniak called the areas heavily congested and heavily trafficked.

He estimated 51 morning trips to the site and 102 evening trips from the site, with minor timing changes in surrounding traffic signals, he concluded that the building’s impact on traffic would be minor. It would increase traffic by 2 percent to 5 percent at peak traffic times.

Applicant’s witnesses also testified that drainage in the area would be improved by the project as 93 percent of the site is currently covered by pavement.

John Giunco, the applicant’s attorney acknowledged that the board members “had raised serious questions about parking.”

The meeting was adjourned with the applicant agreeing to prepare a concept plan for Whelan to review. The application was carried to Nov. 22, assuming a parking plan could be created in time, and to Dec. 13, if not.