Note: This story was updated Feb. 24 to correct the first name of Commissioner Wilkinson.
The Red Bank City Commission has voted to give developer Rise Partners a special permit to allow a mixed-use development at the commercially zoned site of the former Save A Lot shopping center at 2119 and 2101 Dayton Blvd.
The permit allows for the construction of a 200-plus-unit apartment complex and 7,000-square-foot retail building. The apartments are allowed under the current zoning, but without the special permit, the developer would be required to make the entire first floor commercial space.
Jamie Fairbanks-Harvey was the only commissioner who voted not to approve the permit.
"I have some concerns," she said. "I've had several residents come to me about the number of apartments we already have in Red Bank, and this is another big project that could interfere with the neighborhood."
Commissioner Pete Phillips said he is in favor of high-density residential development.
"We've got to have people to buy stuff, eat. They've got to shop at Mango's," he said, referring to the store selling home decor across the street from the proposed development.
Commissioner Hayes Wilkinson said it's also worth noting that the proposed apartments are luxury units.
Rise Partners, which purchased the property about a year ago, previously requested that a portion of the property be rezoned to allow for the construction of 38 townhomes. The city's Planning Commission approved the request, which the developer withdrew before it went before the City Commission for a vote.
"We got a lot of feedback from the community about wanting more density on the site," Geoff Smith, a partner at Rise Partners, said during the public hearing Tuesday, as to why apartments are included in the proposed development rather than townhomes.
The developer is aiming to sign leases of at least five years with commercial tenants and is open to building the space to suit potential tenants, Smith said.
Among the conditions attached to the permit is a requirement that at least four of the apartment units on the first floor facing Dayton Boulevard allow for the residential tenant to operate "complementary commercial services" such as art studios, barber/beauty shops or general office uses.
The developer is required to fund a traffic study to evaluate the need for a traffic light or flashing crosswalk on Dayton Boulevard next to the development and to fund those improvements if deemed necessary.
Single-family homes also are prohibited on the property as a condition of the permit.
Christopher Wood, who owns the Be Caffeinated drive-through coffee shop on Dayton Boulevard, said he plans to rent some of the commercial space in the proposed development.
"We've had a lot of input from people wanting some more sit-down cafes in Red Bank," Wood said at the meeting, adding that he plans to use a portion of the space for a roasting operation with New Wave Coffee and another portion as a cafe. "There's a couple other concepts we've been working on with (the developer) that will fill in some of the other space in the commercial building."
The property now generates about $26,000 annually in property taxes and will generate an estimated $264,000 post-development, Smith said. The estimate does not include sales tax generated by businesses operating on the property.
Resident Drake Pertuit said during the public hearing that he feels the developer's plan is the best proposal for the site so far, but he still has concerns about the intentions of the developer.
"I just want everyone to realize that we're not dealing with a small-town developer here that's trying to partner with our local businesses," Pertuit said. "I want our business owners and our city to be cautiously optimistic about this development."