Story and photo by Jay Cook
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – A long-vacant lot in Atlantic Highlands’ historic business district is being eyed for an upscale, traditional style, multi-use development.
The project is being led by Patrick Kalian, managing partner and co-owner of Atlantic Highlands Associates, LLC.
“I’ve lived in the area since 1980 and I always looked at Atlantic Highlands as the next town, the next place to happen,” Kalian said Monday.
Kalian is proposing the Harbor House, a three-story, 5,700-square-foot mixed-use building with commercial and residential space. The first floor would have 1,165-square-feet of commercial space, as well as two residential units in the back. On the second and third floors, eight more residential units are being proposed. In total, there would be five one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units.
Located in between The Jig Factory dance school and Better Homes Realty, 60 First Ave. has been vacant for decades. Borough administrator Adam Hubeny, who began his service as a police officer in the borough in 1987, recalled the lot being vacant then.
Kalian acquired the property in June 2015 from its previous owner, Marlin Technology Partners, LLC, based in Holmdel, who owned it for just over nine years.
Harbor House was presented to the borough planning board at the March 9 meeting. The presentation will continue at the April 13 meeting, where a decision could be made.
If approved, the complex would mark the third mixed-use development Kalian has constructed in Atlantic Highlands. His other two are found across town and are currently under construction: Bay Village-First Avenue and Bay Village-HennesseyBoulevard.
Bay Village-First Avenue, located at 35 First Ave., will have approximately 2,500-square-feet of retail space along with six total residential units. Bay Village-Hennessey Boulevard, found at 2 Hennessey Blvd., is set to have 7,200-square-feet of water view office space and 16 total residential units. By November, he expects occupancy at both sites.
Though not right on the water, Kalian believes the new proposal will provide its own benefits to potential lessees.
“Harbor House will not have the similar views, but it will have really nice units right in town, where you can walk to everything,” he said.
Although site plans are not yet finalized, Kalian said the site would have a brick layout along the front and the residential units would have upscale bathrooms and many amenities. He called the units “luxury rentals.”
One issue that might occur in Kalian’s application, though, is that ground floor apartments along First Avenue are not permitted under current zoning law. Kalian must seek a variance for that to happen.
Hubeny said the borough has been impressed by the different styles of mixed-use that have come before the planning board.
“The people coming in to do these projects are well-prepared,” he said. “They’re not shooting for the stars, they have reasonable plans.” It’s also a new method of business that the Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce has welcomed.
“I think as far as the chamber goes, it’s a very good thing,” said Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce president Cindy Fligor.
“Towns need to promote growth from within and there’s a current growth spurt that we’re having.”
Fligor owns Salon at 68, a beauty salon located at 68 First Ave. She is excited to welcome new businesses into the borough.
“It’s a win-win,” she said. “Atlantic Highlands can still keep its charm.”
With the influx of mixed use comes the potential to becoming a state-recognized transit village, an initiative spearheaded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and NJ Transit.
Through the program, grants are provided to municipalities as incentive to redevelop areas around transit stations. Ferry services are not currently considered transit stations by the state.
Atlantic Highlands hopes to lead the charge for municipalities who have a productive ferry service. At the foot of First Avenue, the Seastreak ferry has a terminal which primarily transports commuters to and from New York City.
“We believe that when we’re ready, and we have all of our ducks in a row to apply for transit village, this will only bolster our application,” he said.
Preparing to finish his application, Kalian is confident that the planning board will accept Harbor House at the April 13 meeting.
“We hope to get it very soon,” he said. “We’ll wait 60 days and then start construction.”
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