By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The Carousel building in Asbury Park may soon return to one of its former uses: a skatepark and the bandshell on top of the Fifth Avenue Pavilion on the boardwalk could be home to two new restaurants.
Madison Marquette, which owns the Carousel building, wants to install a skate bowl inside the building for the summer months. The redeveloper is also planning to rebuild the bandshell, which it owns and which has not been used in many years, and install a new restaurant there as well as one on the ground floor.
Anselm Fusco, Senior Vice President for Madison Marquette presented plans to the Technical Review Committee May 31 that include a combined skate bowl and retail operation at the site.
The skate bowl would be built inside the building while two pop up containers would be placed at the doors of the north side of the building with the doors facing inward.
The containers would be retail shops for skaters, and include clothing lines and accessories.
“There is a skate lifestyle, like surfing,” Fusco said.
As Fusco made his presentation he made clear that it would be an “experiment” which the Planning Board could approve for a one-year trial.
“If you don’t like it at the end of the season, put in a forklift and away they go,” he said.
Fusco said, as a retail establishment, Madison Marquette works to bring retail to its developments and bring new and exciting experiences as well.
Jack Curley, P. E. Madison Marquett’s engineer.said at the meeting the plans are in concert with what has been proposed by the TRC for the area, which includes an entertainment component in the plan
“This fits into the redevelopment plan,” he said.
“It’s meant to be an entertainment base…we want to pair with retail space,” Fusco said.
The skate bowl would be seasonal and “totally weather dependent.
Fusco estimates that if the fall weather cooperates the skateboard area could remain open through November. Food trucks would also be in the area.
Fusco said the idea is for middle aged skaters who are now dads to take their kids there to learn to skate.
“It’s an interesting dimension in retail, we want to bring this to Asbury Park. This is where they would go,” he said.
He later said it would be a chance to get a different segment of the market in that area.
“It would be a family thing,” he said.
The Asbury Park Skateboard Foundation has been looking for a place in town to erect a skate park and Fusco said this could be a good temporary alternative.
On the south side of the carousel building Fusco proposed allowing a company called Nomad to set up a series of tents on small platforms for what he called “glamping” or glamorous camping.
Picnic tables would be placed in the area as well along with a snack trailer and Port-a-Johns.
The self contained tents would also be allowed to stay for as long as the weather permits.
Fusco said glampers would be allowed to use the Asbury Park Waterfront showers and lockers located across the street from the Carousel Building.
Sara Anne Towery, chair of the TRC, objected to the pop up containers being located at the north end and said she would feel better about switching the containers with the tents.
“I don’t like the trailers outside one of our most beautiful buildings,” she said.
Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton said, “It’s one of our most iconic buildings.”
“Most people don’t go inside, they know the outside,” Towery said.
“This is an opportunity to do something interesting…and it’s only temporary,” Fusco said.
Towery said she liked the idea of the tents.
“It’s sort of fun and exciting,” she said.
Fusco said details, such as anchoring the containers and signage were still being worked out.
In the end Towery, who is also a member of the Planning Board and other TRC members agreed that the plans should be brought to the board.
In the meantime Fusco said he did not want to pursue something that is “unwanted and contentious” and said he would talk to the tent people about moving them to the other side of the parking lot.
Fusco said this was an opportunity to “get something going in this building
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Architect Bill Miller, presented plans for taking down and rebuilding the band shell on the roof of the Fifth Avenue Pavilion. He said Madison Marquette is ready to move forward with the project which would be placed in the same location with seating to the south.
Plans also call for building a restaurant to the south of the seating with folding and sliding glass doors that can be open in good weather for an open air effect and closed in the winter.
Plans also call for a restaurant to be built on the first floor underneath the bandshell.
“The idea is to take advantage of this space and use it year round,” Miller said.
He estimated the rooftop area provided 7300 square feet of usable space.
If approved the pavilion would be the site of four restaurants including McLoone’s Asbury Grill and McLoone’s Supper Club, which are located at the north end of the pavilion in the former Howard Johnson’s building.
Miller also said the band shell area would allow for 200 seats and a raised stage.
He added that new materials would be used that are wind, fire and weather resistant and also code compliant.
Several committee members questioned Miller about the landscaping and look of the structure.
Although details are still be discussed, Miller said the building exterior would be a combination of glass, steel, clear aluminum and a light tones masonry.
Towery said the new construction has to look like the rest of the building, including the railings.
The TRC gave verbal approval for Madison Marquette to bring the plans to the City Council for conceptual review. If council approves the plans will head to the Planning Board.