By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Eastside, westside all around the town, there is a building boom taking place in Asbury Park the likes of which may not have been seen since the city was founded in the late 1800s.
Mayor John Moor said this is “definitely” the most construction he has ever seen.
“Everybody wants to come to Asbury Park. The two key buzz words in the Northeast are Asbury Park,” Moor said.
The mayor also said the city, which earned record accolades last year, is in the running again for Best Littlest City and Best Beach.
The increased positive publicity over the last few years, along with a stable government, has helped the current building boom.
The addition of new condominiums, townhouses, renovated and expanded pavilions, the new Boston Way Village federal housing complex and commercial establishments is also bringing changes to the city.
The city is undergoing an aggressive road program to repair its bumpy roads with Sunset Avenue complete and Fourth Avenue repaving underway.
Asbury Avenue, a county road which many consider as the gateway to the city, is also being repaired this week. It was scheduled for last year but the county was unable to do the project. When the county once again tried to postpone the project Moor told them no.
All of this construction, however beneficial to the city, will impact infrastructure, traffic, parking and services.
With each new construction at the beachfront or downtown, parking spaces are lost, often for extended periods of time.
Developers often compensate the city financially for the loss of meter revenue, but that does not necessarily relieve parking woes for residents or tourists.
Staging areas, where construction business trailers are kept, also take away parking and can be unsightly.
But Moor is confident with each building project adequate infrastructure has been installed.
“It’s projected to happen, it’s not a surprise – all of the infrastructure is in place that should be in place,” he said.
Moor also said that all new developers are told two things up front, 20 percent of residential units must be affordable and a workforce plan to train and hire city residents must be included.
“If you don’t want to do that you’re wasting your time,” he said.
Moor also said he has never seen so many houses for sale and be sold so quickly.
“People are knocking on doors asking people if they want to sell their house. If they are ready to sell they are making a heck of a profit and getting out,” he said.
The mayor said he is even seeing it on the westside of town with people buying homes that would not have sold two to three years ago.
“They are buying houses at $90,000 that are now up to $150,000 and could be sold in two years for $250,000,” he said.
Moor said even if people buy on the 900 block they are still only 10 blocks to the beach.
With all the new construction, residential and commercial, the city should be seeing revenues increase.
According to Tax Assessor Eric Aguiar all the projects are being developed under the PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes, program. They are all tax exempt but make payments to the city. Aguiar said each of the agreements is unique and some are for 15 years while others are for 30 years.
He explained the complicated system in general terms saying the new condos being built are assessed each year and then a municipal portion is set.
When a new condominium is resold, a new assessment is made based on the resale price, Aguiar said.
He also said the increased revenue is beneficial because it offsets the city’s portion of the county tax that must be paid by all 53 municipalities in Monmouth County.
Not all residents, however, are happy with the increased activity.
Members of the Wesley Lake Commission have complained that construction companies are not following guidelines for storm water runoff at the sites and the city and county are not enforcing regulations.
Tee Lesinski, a board member on the commission, spoke about the issue publicly at a recent council meeting. She said she believes the city should be enforcing the guidelines as soon as they see a violation. Gravel has not been installed, she said, at the entrance and exits sites at several projects. The gravel prevents sediment and silt from getting into the storm drains.
Lesinski also said that black sheeting or tarps should be put across storm drains to prevent silt from seeping into the lakes.
The following is a rundown of some of the more prominent ongoing projects:
Asbury Ocean Club, Surfside Resort and Residences
Located at 1101 Ocean Avenue, the 16 story hotel, condominium and a public pool is the biggest construction project in the city and when completed will be the largest building in the city. Located in the Waterfront Redevelopment Area it has a modern look with glass exteriors for the 130 condominiums and 54 hotel rooms.
The building will have public and private parking at ground level and a public pool and lounge on the 4th floor mezzanine.
The new iStar hotel/condominium has an expected completion date of spring of 2019.
Fifth Avenue Pavilion
Boardwalk pavilions are getting makeovers with added attractions including the rebuilding of the band shell on the roof of what is referred to as “Howard Johnson” building as well as a rooftop restaurant. Retail stores will be on the ground level. Construction is moving quickly and the pavilion is scheduled to be ready for use sometime this summer.
Sackman Enterprises has developed plans to construct a boutique hotel in the historic Kinmonth Building which is home to Savoy Theater.
The company had previously proposed building micro residential units at the site but believes a hotel would be more beneficial to the community. Access parking will be at 711 Mattison Ave. The hotel will provide employment for a significant number of people on a year round basis, which the former proposal of micro units would not do.
The hotel would also have a rooftop pool, and to qualify for a liquor license will have to have a minimum of 100 rooms.
Barry Slott Building
Sackman Enterprises also proposed changes to 574 Cookman Ave., known as the Barry Slott building which will maintain the historic look of the building on the bottom half but have a more modern look on the three upper floors, each of which will have six new residential units.
Attorney Andrew Karas explained that the modern design is created to complement the historic look in the absence of being able to replicate it.
“It’s iconic and reflects the direction that Asbury is going,” he said.
The permitted height in the Central Business District is 45 feet, however, many buildings are higher, giving the area a “staggered” look.
711 Mattison Avenue
At 711 Mattison 51 residential units are planned along with a total of 188 parking spaces, most on the ground floor, which was the reasoning behind increasing the height to 50 feet, five feet above the 45 feet allowed.
Only 87 parking spaces are required for the project but the developer is adding more to accommodate residents of 574 Cookman which is nearby.
700 Bangs Avenue
Rental units in a new apartment building at 700 Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park are now listed online for about $2000 to $2200 per month.
There are 42 apartments with configurations of studios, one bedrooms with a study and two bedrooms.
“It will be a good mix,” said developer Carter Sackman. The building includes laundry facilities, a gym and 61 enclosed parking spaces.
There is also 4000 square feet of retail space available.
Mary Mac Libation Station
On Main Street restaurateur John McGillion is expanding his bar /restaurant presence from Johnny Mac House of Spirits with the construction of Mary Mac Libation Station on the adjacent property.
The outside bar set up in the parking lot between the two buildings will remain with eventual plans to build an upper level walkway between the two establishments.
Work on a new Dollar Tree discount store are underway on Main Street at the corner of Third Avenue. Developer Patrick Fasano said the project includes decorative awnings, landscaping and bicycle racks. He is also building a mixed use retail and apartment project on the other end of the block at Fourth Avenue with nine retail stores at ground level and four luxury two bedroom apartments on the second floor.
There will also be nine parking spaces provided at the site set to open this summer.
Boston Way Village
The federal housing project on Memorial Drive will replace the former seven building complex which has been demolished, with townhouses.
The new $28 million project will have 104, one, two and three bedroom townhouses and will include landscaping, walkways and lighting.
All former residents will have the right of first refusal for the new housing when it is completed.
The project is estimated to be completed in the fall of 2019.
The Parkview Asbury Park
The Parkview Asbury Park, a project that was formerly called the Turf Club, has been given the all clear to begin building a row of two unit townhouses on Springwood Avenue.
The project is being done by Interfaith Neighbors and each of the 10 units includes a two story, three bedroom unit fronting on Springwood Avenue and an apartment above the garage. There will also be a detached garage that fronts onto Adams Street with a one bedroom apartment over the garage.
Either unit may be rented out but the owner must occupy one of the units.
The requirement that 20 percent of the units have to conform to affordable housing guidelines applies.
The Michaels Group is also planning a major housing development, Renaissance Village, on Springwood Avenue. A groundbreaking was held Oct. 17 for the new 64 unit, five building rental unit complex.
The residential units are for those earning less than 60 percent of median income.
It is located on three pieces of property along Springwood and Sylvan Avenues.