By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
A new proposal scheduled to go before Asbury Park officials features 160 condominiums next door to The Wonder Bar which would reduce the iconic alcohol establishment’s outdoor space including the venue for Yappy Hour, a 15-year tradition whose $10 cover charge raises money for local rescue organizations.
Inspire by Somerset Development wants to build a 160-unit multifamily development, including 42 one-bedroom units, 78 two-bedroom units and 35-three bedroom units fronting at 1209 Ocean Ave. The Wonder Bar’s address is 1213 Ocean Ave. The project would be bounded by Kingsley Street and Fourth and Fifth Avenues, Ocean Avenue and The Wonder Bar said representatives of the development company at a recent City Council meeting.
The City Council acts as the redevelopment agency for the city and its approval is necessary before a project can be submitted to the Planning or Zoning boards. City officials decided they needed more information before signing off the plans for preliminary and major subdivision approvals.
Michael Bruno, a lawyer from Giordano Halloran and Ciesla, and David Minno from a Lamberville architectural firm said they worked to incorporate recommendations made by the city’s Technical Review Committee to ensure the project was compliant with the city’s Waterfront Development Plan. As submitted, the proposal does require a number of design waivers but it does not require any variances.
The Holmdel developer, who is the contract purchaser for the now vacant site near Bradley Park, made several concessions to the legacy of the Wonder Bar. The design of the Ocean Avenue units will be stacked in such a way that the Wonder Bar’s painting of Tillie can be clearly seen. Further, in designing the project with units that are “stepped back,” from Fifth Avenue, the views to The Wonder Bar remains intact, said Minno, The Wonder Bar is located at the corner of Ocean and Fifth Avenues.
The building will be 130-feet-tall with eight stories. Among the controversies is what constitutes “a story” or a “Level’ in the zoning code because with 22 feet first-floor units, future developers could misread this decision and maintain that each of its stories should allow for 22 foot apartments.
The developer maintains however that only retail and restaurants on the first floor would have 22 foot ceilings while first-floor residential units would have 15 foot and units on other floors would have 9-foot ceilings until you get to top levels which would feature high ceilings. An exact number could not be determined because construction plans have not been completed, pending city approval, Minno said.
The proposed project includes 80,736-feet of retail space and room for 270 cars although the parking facility will be wrapped by residential units so it is little noticed from the street. The development proposes that the building height varies from three to eight stories on Kingsley, Fourth and Fifth avenues and a maximum of three stories on Ocean Avenue.
The eight stories do not include a penthouse floor. The project also would feature two towers, developers said.
Although the development company is called Somerset, for purposes of this application, it is Somerset Asbury Park Urban Renewal LLC.