Since being conceived nearly a decade ago, plans to redevelop a former lumber yard at the edge of downtown Red Bank have been threatened by litigation, the fall of the condominium market and the real estate downturn.
But developer Woodmont Properties has had reasons to stay patient: a location near a train station and popular arts district, the demand for luxury rental units and "the idea of being able to do something a little different."
"Those three things really combined to say, 'Hey, we can't give up on this,' even though we hadn't closed and we could have invested our time and our resources elsewhere," said Stephen Santola, executive vice president and general counsel of the Fairfield-based developer. "But we really wanted to see this through."
Woodmont and its partner, Metrovation Terranomics, are now moving ahead on construction at West Side Lofts at Red Bank, a mixed-use, downtown-style project at West Front Street and Bridge Avenue. The property will include 92 rental units and 25,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a new craft brewery.
Work began this spring on a parking garage, and the companies expect to start raising steel on the main component before the end of the summer, Santola said. Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2014.
The project's main retail component will be Triumph Brewery, which has a location in downtown Princeton. The remaining space will be guided by Metrovation, a San Francisco-based real estate company that owns several retail buildings around Red Bank and Monmouth County.
The project has been several years in the making, starting around 2005 when Woodmont and Metrovation entered into contract to buy the property and build 92 condominium units. After the team secured local approvals, the project was the subject of litigation over alleged conflicts of interest on the zoning board, then stalled by the real estate downturn.
"The condominium market obviously just fell out, and financing for that particular approval really became an impossibility in the depth of the recession," Santola said. He noted that the developers "definitely could have walked away," but opted to stay on board and convert the project to apartments to meet the rising demand for rentals.
Borough officials granted the needed zoning changes last year, clearing the way for construction.
Reporter Joshua Burd is @JoshBurdNJ on Twitter.