By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
Developer Henry Vaccaro, whose non-profit entity Save Asbury Park’s History is primarily motivated by establishing some sort of relationship with Asbury Park’s waterfront developer, remains hopeful for a sit-down.
Renovations have seemingly stalled at The Paramount and Convention Hall, which are owned by the city’s redeveloper Madison Asbury.
Vaccaro several months ago proposed working with Madison Asbury – the city’s waterfront redeveloper – with MA and Vaccaro’s team planning to meet sometime after Labor Day to see if both entities can hammer out a plan for restoration and preservation of Convention Hall, the Paramount Theater, the city’s heating plant.
There is a limited amount of information that Madison is negotiating with Landmark Ventures to convert the heating plant, at the south end of the boardwalk, into a reception venue but neither Madison nor Frank Critelli, the owner of Landmark Venues, have responded to requests for information on that proposal. City officials say they have heard nothing of it beyond an inadvertent statement from a lawyer during a recent hearing about a liquor license transfer.
Save Asbury Park’s History adjusted its initial charter to include preservation of the heating plant in its efforts.
“I sent them two emails,” said Vaccaro as to his primary purpose in getting a non-profit fund raiser begun to devote to the iconic buildings slowly being destroyed by salt water intrusion. “The ball is in their court.”
The city had declared the developer in default but ultimately withdrew two of the four default notices. But the city and Madison Asbury – also known as Madison Marquette in a former corporate identity – are still at odds about how to proceed. Madison Asbury wanted to take a slow view at restoring the iconic buildings. The city has pointed out, however, that the developer has complied with a request by the city to prove it has the financial wherewithal to move forward on the projects so the city does not understand what is the point of foot dragging. Additional delays are further compromising the structural integrity of the structures which also are putting the city’s history and tourism markets at risk. Asbury Park has had to surrender a number of high-profile concerts to the Count Basie in Red Bank including the much anticipated Ringo Starr tour.
Vaccaro said the developer’s schedule was tight during the summer which is why all parties agreed to a sit down after the season.
“I’m cautiously optimistic. I get a sense they want to have a meeting with me,” Vaccaro has said, noting he will meet with the developer here in Asbury or in New York City.
Vaccaro was the original redeveloper of what was then called the Berkeley-Carteret Oceanfront Hotel, rebuilding the 248-room structure originally constructed in 1924 and which stands today as homage to the great Victorian era of Asbury’s Golden Age.