155 residential units are proposed in the vacant lot next to the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.
By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
A proposal for a 155-unit condominium complex immediately south of The Wonder Bar, at the corner of Ocean and Fifth Avenues in Asbury Park, has been continued before the Planning Board to July 17.
This project is being proposed by Somerset Asbury Park Urban Renewal LLC, a subsidiary of developer Inspired who created the Ocean Club and BellWorks out of the former Bells Labs property in Holmdel Township.
The developer and various experts who testified in support of the project said it was and remains the intention to save The Wonder Bar, a result also mandated by Asbury Partners, which owns both parcels of land. It is possible the Wonder Bar also may gain a small amount of outdoor space.
Preserving The Wonder Bar was made possible by an amendment to the city’s waterfront development plan which no longer mandates redevelopment be undertaken block by block. Without having to demolish and rebuild each block means some structures can stand amid the bustle of new construction.
The site takes in a 1.8 acres fronting on Ocean Avenue. It also incorporates a portion of Fourth and Fifth avenues and Kingsley Street and accommodates 9390-square-feet of retail/commercial fronting on Ocean Avenue, possibly a streetside cafe because the contractor will construct a wide sidewalk there.
“It depends on what kind of tenants we attract,” Architect David J. Minno said of what sort of commercial uses would occupy the front of the project.
The project will not obscure the big representation of Tillie on the bar’s southside. Rather, the project will be recessed in a way that guarantees Tillie will smile down for many years to come, according to the testimony.
The project will have 270 interior parking spaces, some 232 for residents and 10 reserved for employees of The Wonder Bar, as mandated by the City Council.
Ralph Zucker, who is president of the development company, said the project was prepared with a “human-centered approach…It has a human scale.”
It is meant to create engagement with the streets, he said, with pedestrians from all four sides of the project and along with the Ocean Club “starts to become a neighborhood.” It is designed to be a four-season year-round place.
Minno, who has a home in Ocean Grove and whose daughter lives in Asbury Park, said he was very sensitive to making a project for the betterment of the community. He called the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan a good guiding document although “it has a little dust on it.” The plan was adopted in 2002, long before the current City Council was seated.
The proposed project will offer 41 one-bedroom units, 69 two-bedroom units and 45 three-bedroom units. There will be an eight-foot high concrete wall giving The Wonder Bar’s outdoor spaces separation and privacy for the condos, many of which will have front porches which will help with neighborhood engagement.
The design features a beach alley with restrooms, showers and storage facilities for those who do not want to carry the sand up to their condos. There are plans for workstations inside the building for those living post-Covid who are working remotely but prefer not to do it from their living rooms. A gaming area is contemplated, possibly for digital golf.