Asbury Park’s downtown business district has been placed officially on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, which allows some financial incentives for owners to historically renovate their buildings.
“I think this is a good thing. It’s recognition of the history of Asbury Park’s downtown and the significance of the city itself,” said Donald Sammet, the city’s director of planning and redevelopment.
Sammet said the historic designation also opens to door to the possibility of obtaining grants and other funding sources to improve historic buildings.
“It is also good for historic heritage tourism and recognizes the history of our city, beyond its waterfront,” he said.
Robert W. Craig, the statewide coordinator for the New Jersey and National Register programs, confirmed earlier this week that the city’s downtown commercial district was registered on the state registry on July 10 and on the federal registry on Sept. 30.
“And it’s not everyday that we get one of these listed,” he said.
Craig said that historic districts can include a vast array of areas, such as commercial, residential, civil or institutional, agriculture, rural, or industrial districts.
He said there are about 275 districts officially registered as historic districts throughout the state and up to 1,500 to 1,600 individual sites.
“We usually get several district applications a year but it is very unusual to have an historic urban commercial district on the Jersey Shore,” he said.
He said the next most likely district that could be registered at the Jersey Shore is one in Atlantic City, but, that with all the changes in that city, it may be uncertain at this point.
Asbury Park downtown redeveloper Carter Sackman, who owns a number of large properties in the commercial area, paid a private company to prepare and submit the application to the state Historic Preservation Office. Sackman could not be reached for comment on the district’s new designation.
Both the state and national historic registers provide recognition of a community’s historic importance and require protective reviews of public projects that might adversely affect the character of the historic property. The designation has little, if any, impact on private property owners but would require public projects to comply with certain requirements within the district.
Private property owners would be eligible for a one-time, 20-percent federal tax credit for substantial rehabilitation to an historic building within the district and be able to participate nonprofit and public grant programs.
According to Sackman’s application, most commercial buildings in the Asbury Park commercial district were built between the 1870s up to before the 1960s. It is estimated that 80 percent of the downtown’s buildings are built before 1960.
Historic downtown buildings in Asbury Park include the old National Guard Armory (now home to VFW Post 1333), several old banks, an old post office, the Steinbach department store building, and the Kinmouth building, which houses the former Savoy Theatre.