Home’s owner seeks Matawan’s OK to create eight apartments

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 The owner of the residence that is known as the Victorian “blue house” in Matawan is seeking approval from the borough’s Unified Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment to convert the vacant home into residential units .

This transformation, according to  Andrew Scibor, is necessary to keep the iconic residence standing.

Testimony on the application that has been filed by Scibor, who is from of Main Street Associates, Matawan, has been heard at several meetings and is expected to resume at the board’s March 4 meeting.

As his application continues before the board, Scibor reached out to the Independent to discuss what he is trying to accomplish.

In an interview on Feb. 20, Scibor said he purchased the home and property at 226 Main St. in 2007 for $450,000. He said he is seeking approval for a second time to restore and renovate the 146-year-old home.

Scibor said he went before the board in 2007 to seek a use variance that would have allowed him to convert the home into commercial office space. A use variance requires five “yes” votes from the board.

Scibor that after a series of hearings was conducted over two years, the application received four votes for approval and fell one vote short of the required five votes.

Scibor said residents opposed his plan and feared the Second French Empire home, which was built in 1873, would lose its character.

More than a decade later, Scibor said, residents are objecting to his plan to create eight apartments in the three-story home. He said if the landmark residence is not restored, it can be demolished.

“I have the demolition paperwork ready,” Scibor said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be cheaper for me to take down the property and build something new. It’s more money for me to restore that property.”

Scibor said he bought the home he passed as a child for himself and his son to live in, but said that plan did not work out.

After failing to gain approval for his 2007 plan, Scibor put the home up for sale, but did not receive an offer in the 10 years the mansion has been on the market.

Scibor said he does not expect a buyer to come forward. He said a $400,000 cost to restore the home, combined with a $400,000 cost to purchase the home, is not feasible for people who are looking to buy a house. 

“When I bought the property in 2007, I was in a bidding war with a neighbor,” Scibor said. “A couple of days after I bought the property, I introduced myself and they explained to me that they wanted to make the home into a bed and breakfast. They were upset with me. From that point on, the neighbors were envious of me and they would try to get residents to oppose my plans for the property.”

Scibor said residents believe the home is registered as a historical property and cannot be altered or improved. He said as the owner, he may register the property as a historical home, but he has chosen not to do so.

“I want to restore this property,” he said. “Everyone can benefit from (a restoration). The town would benefit by getting more tax revenue. People can benefit by living in this beautiful older home. Finally, the home is restored and remains. This is a win-win across the board, but if everyone is going to fight with me again, it’s going to be tough.”

Scibor said the home “has not been maintained at all.” He said the building does not serve a purpose, “so why would I put money into it?”

The Matawan native said he has always admired what the Matawan Historical Society has called “the most striking residence” in the borough.

“I always loved that house. If the town won’t let me do anything with it, and this house falls down by itself, it is what it is,” he said.

Scibor said one resident believes her house would be worth less if the mansion is restored and rented to tenants.

“(Residents) feel I am going to change the property in a way that alters the property now,” Scibor said.

He said if the board approves the application, the Victorian home will look the same. The only difference is that walls would be constructed in the home to create the apartments.

“If this property cannot be converted into multi-family homes or offices, the home cannot sustain itself and generate enough money to keep it going,” Scibor said.

Scibor said there is a need for multi-family housing in Matawan. He said the units would be ideal for young professionals and would rent for about $1,200 per month.

“Homes are needed for single professionals,” he said. “It’s hard to find something so reasonably priced in this area, especially so close to a train station for people who  commute to New York City. (This proposal) is a win-win situation for everybody. The town wants me to do something with (the property). I want to do something with (the property). This is my last hurrah with the property.”