By JOSEPH SAPIA
For the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce and Harold Daley VFW Post 1333, it is a happy marriage — the chamber renting newly renovated space in the basement of the post at the corner of Lake Avenue and Bond Street.
“We’ve learned a lot more in what the chamber is doing for the community,” said Frank Brogna, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post, adding the new marriage is good for joint efforts between the VFW and the Chamber. “It’s a nice combination of learning what they do, what we do, helping one another.”
“This is a perfect addition to the downtown,” said Roy Werts, the chamber president.
Werts said visitors can visit chamber offices without leaving the Downtown and that the location complements the chamber having a trailer office on the Boardwalk during the warm months. Jacqueline L. Pappas, the chamber’s executive director, added, beside being near the Main Street and Cookman Avenue business districts, the new location is near the passenger train station and bus routes.
The location joins the Downtown/beach side of town with the West Side, said Nancy Mikulich, who designed the office.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the chamber held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by about 30, at the new offices.
The chamber has been operating out of the VFW “just in the last month or so,” Pappas said. “We’ve been kind of working on it (the new offices) all summer.”
The space has an open-area entrance; an office for Pappas;, cubicles including one for Matthew Whelan, assistant to the executive director; a conference room available for community use; and storage space.
Interior designer and chamber member Mikulich of Oasis Home in Asbury Park worked “the reception area around” support poles, setting up a grid pattern, she said.
Mikiluch left the brick work in Pappas’ office exposed “to bring out the character of the building and not mask it,” paying “homage to the providence of the building, the historic nature,” she said. The cubicle partitions do not go to the ceiling, so there is a “networking, communicating” feeling, Mikiluch said.
The new space is “comforting and welcoming,” Pappas said. “We wanted it to be cool and funky.”
The chamber moved into the VFW “just in the last month or so,” Pappas said.
“We’ve been kind of working on it all summer,” Pappas said.
The chamber moved to the VFW after three years at the Business Development Center on Springwood Avenue. Pappas said the chamber grew out of the Springwood Avenue space.
“We plan to be here awhile,” Pappas said. “We go where we are needed. This is on Main Street, (the) Downtown strip. (Springwood Avenue) was good time, well-spent.”
The space taken over by the chamber, which had been used by a business, was vacant for about eight months, Brogna said.
“The building history is amazing,” said Werts, owner of the Posh Den, which sells jewelry, home furnishings and gifts on the Boardwalk. “It’s another piece of history in Asbury Park.”
The building dates to 1915 — or two years after the chamber was formed — when it was built as a New Jersey National Guard armory. The armory was active until the 1960s, when the VFW Post purchased it.
“I think it’s definitely Asburyish,” said Larry Stein, owner of Appliance Brokers in the city, speaking of the office, relating to the building’s history and its ambiance. “It’s great. Everything going on seems to be moving in the right direction. Nice to partner with the VFW.”