By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Asbury Park developer Pat Fasano, one of the pioneers who renovated and refurbished dilapidated buildings downtown and at the beachfront over the last 20 years, has decided to head south to Atlantic City.
Fasano purchased 21 contiguous properties in the city where he will build a project called the Orange Loop, after the three orange properties, New York, St. James and Tennessee Avenue, in the Monopoly game.
“Unfortunately it’s not possible for small developers to work in Asbury,” Fasano said. “I have a payroll to maintain and it’s not possible to get approval and permits to keep the men in work. (It took) over four years for approvals and permits for Dollar Tree and only nine months to build. I have been fighting since October to get permits for the Powhatan hotel. It’s gonna cost me over $100,000 by the time I’m done. It’s hardly worth the fight to get a permit in Asbury Park. There is no one you can go to for help in Asbury. In Atlantic City everybody wants to help and move your application forward. It’s a totally different climate.”
In Atlantic City he hopes to open his new restaurant, Bourre, July 14, while the remainder of the extensive project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2019.
That project, Fasano said, will complement the Tennessee Avenue project which is bringing new shops to the beach block.
Adjacent to Bourre, which he described as a New Orleans style restaurant, will be a shipping container style hotel with 40 rooms. The purchase and development of 12 apartment units is also planned.
Atlantic City’s Mayor Frank Gilliam announced recently that Fasano would be receiving a grant to cover a site contamination assessment for the land.
Another way Fasano hopes to change the landscape in the city is to work to get visitors and residents out on the city streets in direct opposition to the design of casinos which aim to encourage people to stay inside or on the boardwalk.
Fasano arrived in Asbury Park more than 20 years, long before current beachfront developers Madison Marquette and iStar and long before the city became the sought after destination it is today.
At public meetings in Asbury Park Fasano has said Atlantic City is more welcoming allowing him to begin and complete his projects more quickly.
He has been a frequent critic of Asbury Park’s permit processes, which he says delay his projects or prevent them from being built altogether. He is currently building a Dollar Tree store and a retail apartment complex on Main Street and wants to rehabilitate the former Hotel Powhatan building, which is on Third Avenue near the beach.
A few months ago Fasano sold his home on Grand Avenue in Asbury Park but has kept an apartment on Third Avenue next to the Hotel Powhatan. He said he bought a large home in Atlantic City a block from the beach for what he said was a “fraction of what it would have cost in Asbury Park or any other shore town for that matter.” He said the house is in the “best neighborhood” right next to Ventnor.