After nearly five years of absence, the Red Bank Beautification Award is making a return.
Given out by the Red Bank Chamber Council, the award is given to local businesses that make an effort to clean up and beautify their property and the property surrounding them, making the town a more aesthetically pleasing place to live.
Sonja Millard and Cathy Schein, who oversee community development for the Council, said the award's comeback is primarily due to how many new businesses in Red Bank are moving into previously abandoned storefronts, cleaning them up and showing pride in what they do.
"We would drive up and down Dayton Boulevard and think, 'they've done such a good job with that!'" Millard said. "We just want to thank businesses for coming to Red Bank and showing that they care."
The first winner of the award's return is Pratt Home Builders, selected based on the landscaping and improvements they've made to their storefront at 1734 Dayton Blvd. The renovated exterior of the building offers a contemporary, more residential look with stone and rough-sawn cedar posts, as well as a brick oven and fire pit that will be finished in the fall.
"We believe the spaces we spend our lives in are meant to be enjoyed," said Brittany Newman, an online sales and marketing consultant with Pratt. "Our workplaces are our 'home away from home' during business hours, so we wanted to create a place that's a pleasant, inspiring atmosphere for our customers and employees."
Although there aren't any specific qualifications for the award, Millard said she, Schein and the Chamber look for businesses where they drive by and think, "Wow!"
"There's a lot of 'wows' out there now," Schein said, adding, "Five years ago you never would have seen a new house being built, and now there's subdivisions popping up everywhere."
A board member for over 25 years, Millard echoed Red Bank's transformation from a quiet suburb without many businesses into an economic and residential hub.
"I remember doing the streetscaping before there were even sidewalks," said Millard, who oversaw the beautification award before its hiatus.
Although the Council's initial recommendation was for the award to be quarterly, Millard said she believes the Council could give it out monthly and still not run out of businesses to honor.
"We're just so excited to see so many businesses who are proud of what they're doing," Millard said.