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Long view from Ocean Grove of the new A. Park skyline. September 21, 2018 © Blogfinger.net.  Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.net.

The development of this site began in 1989 and was a failure.  Then the Esperanza project began and was lost in the Great Recession  (2009) leaving a steel skeleton.

Here is a Blogfinger post reflecting on the Esperanza:

https://blogfinger.net/2015/03/26/the-other-side-of-asbury-condos-frozen-in-time/

But now a 16 story mixed-use building will soon be finished. It will have 130 condominiums starting at $1 million each, a parking garage for 411 cars, and a 54 room boutique hotel.  There will be thousands of feet of retail space—the prospective occupants have not been revealed.

Some skeptics are doubting that this project will attract buyers for all those multi-million dollar condominiums.  We have also wondered if Asbury has enough juice to be special all year round. Last winter,  the city seemed pretty dreary in the off season, although the restaurant and bar scene should be able to hold on for a few months.

iStar is the developer, and some of us at Blogfinger speculate that  iStar has its eyes on our North End and may have met the Grovarian movers and shakers.

From Ocean Grove, the altered skyline is readily apparent.  The low slung A. Park silhouette now looks like it is on the way to become Long Branch, a once great resort trashed in the interest of money.  As you drive by on Ocean Avenue in LB, you rarely get to see the Ocean.  Tall buildings block the views.

But, in contrast, at Ocean Grove, if we can retain our unique look, there will be no trouble seeing the differences, and the Grove will be even more of a welcoming place;  unless the view south from Asbury Park begins to look like the view inside Asbury Park.

iStar has built the Monroe Condos—another skyline altering building seen from the Grove—this one viewed from Wesley Lake.  We wrote about the Monroe two years ago:

Monroe Condos in Asbury

It will be interesting to see the impact of this new building on the entire area.

 

KATHY BRIER with The NIghthawks:  from Boardwalk Empire

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Portrait of a Zombie. Asbury Park, 2013. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Portrait of a Zombie. Asbury Park, 2013. By Paul Goldfinger ©

BEE GEES

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Asbury Casino. June 5, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Asbury Connection.  June 5, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

YUNA.   From the soundtrack of the movie Savages

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Main Street near the post office. Asbury Park, NJ. Blogfinger photo. June 7, 2018 ©

 

IMG_4469 (1)

The new Asbury Park skyline as seen from Ocean Grove. June, 2018. Blogfinger photo ©.

 

Would you buy a multi- million dollar  condominium in a town that allows its main street to look like this?   The new high-rise construction at the ocean has been likened to the Hamptons, at least in terms of the real estate prices over there, but A. Park has a long way to go before it can be anointed as a first-world American city.

I drive on Main Street almost every day, and the pot holes are threatening the health of my car and my own peace of mind.  In fact, I wouldn’t suggest even riding a horse over there.

Do you think  that investing a fortune in a home in A. Park is a good idea?   i Star is wagering that it will be successful selling those expensive condominiums in their new sky-scraper on the beach.

 

KAREN ELSON   (with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks)  from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire:

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Fire station is at 800 Main Street, at Asbury Avenue in A.Park. Paul Goldfinger photo. 4/14/18.

 

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND

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George Tice © Belmont Hotel, Asbury Park. 1974. This is a selenium-toned silver gelatin print.

By Paul Goldfinger ©. The Belmont burned down about 7 years ago.

By Paul Goldfinger ©. rear view.  Photo taken before the Belmont was destroyed by fire.

Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.   Re-posted from 2016.  The editor’s note below still rings true in 2018 and has been updated.

There were two historic (over 100 years old) hotels in A.Park which were adjacent to each other on Asbury Avenue—-The Belmont and the Atlantic.   The Belmont had 50 rooms, but it was vacant in 2006.   The entire block was scheduled for demolition, but it burned down during a 5 alarm fire, along with the Atlantic, in December of that year.  The balloon construction made for a deluge with quick destruction up and down the buildings.

An AP historian said, in an APP article, that the buildings were considered historically significant to Asbury Park and Monmouth County.
“This site is one of the small remaining number of turn-of-the-century hotels that once flourished,” he said.

“The local historical society wanted to save the Atlantic and Belmont Hotels and have them refurbished to be used for residential purposes, but the society’s efforts were thwarted several years ago by the City Council and redevelopers,” he said.

“And, now that the fire has destroyed the hotels, there is nothing left to do but start from the ground up.  They could have been adapted to modern uses, but now they are gone,” he said.

Residents said they were upset to see history disappear so quickly. “I hate to see it go,” Robert Razminas, 48, an Asbury Park resident for 25 years, said as the buildings burned. “These old places are Asbury Park history. They should be restored and kept up.”

George Tice* is one of America’s most famous photographers.  He is especially known for his work in his native New Jersey.  His specialty is documenting historic old buildings and neighborhoods, as in his photographs of Paterson, an old immigrant based blue collar city.

The Tice photograph above of the Belmont is from an on-line gallery web site   (Paddle8).  In 1974 he photographed two Victorian houses in Ocean Grove. Tice has published about 20 photographic books including one about the Amish in Pennsylvania and another in Ireland and England called “Stone Walls, Grey Skies.” A platinum print from that book resides in Ocean Grove. Contact us if you want to view it. One of his most important books is “Paterson.”

Here is a link to a BF piece in 2013 which shows some of his images:

https://blogfinger.net/2013/11/08/tibet-in-jersey-the-newark-museum-scores-with-exhibits-on-tibet-and-george-tice-jersey-photographer/

PHILLIP SMITH ( of Ocean Grove and the NY Philharmonic) on trumpet along with JOSEPH TURIN on piano play Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”  Note: I spotted Phil—Phil Smith and the NY Philharmonic–on TV for the Live From Lincoln Center New Years Eve show on PBS.  The camera caught him having a string of rests and gazing ahead as Yo Yo Ma played a tango. He has since retired from the Phil, but he still spends summers in the Grove and plays in the Great Auditorium.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article rings true as we think about historic preservation in Ocean Grove. These two Asburian hotels could have been re-purposed into residences while maintaing their  historic “bones.”  As noted before by Blogfinger, Asbury has an advantage for preservation because of the available land for parking, but that didn’t save these two structures—they were destined to be replaced by condominiums.

Evidently the idea of remodeling them into residences was not considered because AP has turned over that entire oceanfront area to trash-and -build-new developers without any worry about history.  They  don’t seem to care about AP’s history and they don’t mind turning much of their reclaimed property into condominiums. I recall when the beautiful old Metropolitan Hotel, a nostalgic place, which I visited before it’s death spiral, with much history, was allowed to rot and then be demolished.

However there is a huge difference between the two towns:  Ocean Grove is on the National and State Historic Registers, so we have an obligation to try and save historic buildings and not mow them down like dead ducks. But turning old hotels into condo’s here is contrary to our Master Plan which has a vision that is totally different than Asbury’s, and we really shouldn’t allow more space-clogging condo conversions of old hotels to occur, especially in defiance of RSIS parking standards.

Our old hotels need to be dealt with in ways that meet the special needs of our town, with the interests of the people and the history placed ahead of the developers and the politicians who want more money from the Cash-Cow-By-The-Sea.

Current related issues in 2018 directs our attention to the Aurora Hotel and the Warrington. We have posted articles about both, and both face an uncertain future in Ocean Grove;  and the best we can  hope for in both cases would be single family Victorian designer homes.

Phil Smith’s solo above  (“Someone to Watch over Me”) reminds us to protect our town’s historic treasures.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor.

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Asbury Park, near Kingsley Street, by the Ocean. Paul Goldfinger photo. Click to admire the populist wall art, an AP trademark— beautiful and fun;  and the old apartment building dressing up and wearing make-up on its eastern side. ©

 

JACQUI NAYLOR:  (No, it’s not Granada or San Francisco  you see, only Asbury Park:)

 

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A. Park as seen from Ocean Grove across Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photograph © c. 2014

A. Park as seen from Ocean Grove across Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photograph © c. 2014.  click to enlarge

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@ Blogfinger.net   Photos and text.  Re-posted from July, 2016, but relevant in 2018 regarding the contrasts between Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.

In case you haven’t noticed, according to last Sunday’s NY Times,  Asbury Park, at least the part by the ocean, is a huge success attracting hot-shots from all over the mid-Atlantic to this “beach destination.”  It seems that the turning point is the new 110 room Asbury Hotel, a brilliantly conceived venue which the chief designer, Anda Andrei, calls “luxury with modesty.”

According to the Times, the “City  by the Sea” has officially risen from the ashes and has become a place where “everyone and everything” is happening.  Below are some of the observations reported  by the Times in their featured article in the “Next Stop” series on Sunday, July 10, 2016, written by Eric Lipton, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist:

“IStar is the NYC based real estate company that owns all 35 acres of beachfront land.  Madison Marquette is the company in charge of leasing retail space at the beachfront.   These companies plan to invest over $1 billion in AP over the next 10 years.”

Regarding the demographics of those who populate the scene in AP, it is described as an “eclectic mix of professionals, families, young bar hoppers, and a large gay population—-all of them across income levels.”

The author of the article said, “Now the rebirth of Asbury Park is no longer in question.  The only question that does remain is how much of Asbury’s character will be retained as it becomes a summertime mecca again.”

The executive in charge of iStar told the Times that “his company is determined not to turn Asbury Park into Disneyland.”

You can already get a feel for that when you check out the eating establishments on the boards—no pizza slices and French fries for them.

“The music scene is still the element that holds Asbury Park together with at least eight venues featuring live music.”

Paul Goldfinger photograph ©

Paul Goldfinger photograph ©

Downtown more than two dozen restaurants and bars comprise an eclectic collection of fine shops, galleries, and bakeries.   The Festhall and Biergarten across the lake from OG is filled with “over 700 patrons on busy weekend nights.”

Clearly this Times article was aimed at a crowd that would respond to the “Brooklyn by the beach” nickname, but when Eric Lipton wondered about retaining the original AP “character,” it wasn’t clear what image he had in mind.

The article failed to consider that AP is a city that consists of more than just a destination for glitterati.  There are people who live there who are ordinary folks—not hipsters, and they bring a beautiful down-home, multi-racial sensibility to the City which has deeper roots than fancy restaurants and cool destinations.   There is a tapestry in Asbury Park, not just designer clothes.

Asbury Park Boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Asbury Park Boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Also there is no recognition in the article of the state of affairs in some parts of town west of the tracks, the poverty, the unemployment, the poor condition of Main Street,  and the pervasive crime problems, primarily surrounding the considerable drug scene over there.

Farmer's market in the Caorusel building. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Farmer’s market in the Carousel building. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  click to see the fun.

And as we all know who live in this area, Asbury Park is not isolated—it has neighbors. Regarding the “eclectic mix” that visits A. Park, the author says that the mix is “in striking contrast to the more stuffy (and staid) nearby beach towns, like Spring Lake.”

Uh, excuse me, but if you are going to contrast Asbury to a nearby town, there is an actual striking contrast with next door Ocean Grove, just south of A. Park—-a much more interesting place than “staid” Spring Lake.

There is a small reference to OG in a side bar which, like most inattentive media, gets it wrong about us—painting us as some shriveled-up museum-like religious town.  He says, “Ocean Grove is a dry town built around religious summer camps—God’s Square Mile is its slogan—-so no bars with music there. But it is a museum of Victorian architecture.”

Ocean Grove as seen from Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove as seen from Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Eric Lipton  mentions our ” more than a dozen bed and breakfast options,” but who would want to visit our embalmed town?  The dynamic interaction between these two beach towns which is developing, goes unrecognized by the media.  Ocean Grove may not be where the cool crowd goes, but our history, diversity, beauty, quietude, and family lifestyles provide quite an impressive and favorable comparison to the sparkling high life going on across Wesley Lake.

So, what will Ocean Grove become by comparison as AP morphs into a very special place with its own character, fame, and attraction?  Will we evolve into a historical prototype of small town America with a famous Victorian architecture, a religious flavor, a unique character, a classy culture, and a wonderful personality of its own that will complement what is happening to the north?

Or will we be left in the dustbin of history as a place with stifling crowding, insoluble  parking concerns, a has-been Victorian success story,  condos all over town, a pseudo-Asbury  at the North End, and a town devoid of community—– known for gizmos and Abba on the Pathway but no art, culture, or values of its own?  All that will be left to focus on will be the Camp Meeting Association with its specific mission and lifestyle—worthy as part of the community, but less impressive all by itself.

CELIA CRUZ:  (Live)   Turn on the music and then look at the gallery below.

An Asbury Park gallery—-the other side of A. Park,  by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger.net.   Click on one and follow the arrows.  Use the small X upper left to return to Blogfinger proper  (or improper as the case may be.)

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“Ice Palace” by Bob Bowné. Asbury Park Carousel Building. January 2015. © Special to Blogfinger.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger   Re-posted from 2015.

iStar is the newest developer for the A. Park oceanfront 1 1/4 mile strip. Others have come and gone, but iStar seems to be confident in their plan to create an amazing strip of 20 mixed use projects including a 110 room hotel to be finished this summer and a new 34 unit condominium complex.

Vive condo project sold out in one day in 2013 and then repeated the feat for phase two. I love to walk by Vive; its design, colors and layout seem so inviting to me. Grovers need relief sometimes from Victorian architecture.

Asbury Park is going places with professional creative planning and above-board management.  What a difference when compared to the wannabe North End project in the Grove.

Undoubtedly those Ocean Grove developers want to hitch their wagon to an iStar and create Asbury Park, Jr. at the OG North End.  But they are so proud of their plan that they are hiding under their beds while waiting for the shenanigans to slither through.  Don’t hold your breath for the names behind WAVE to be revealed. They seem to be  ashamed of their project—it’s been dormant since 2008, and an ugly site remains.

TONY BENNETT AND THE RALPH SHARON ORCHESTRA AT CARNEGIE HALL  (1962)

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Winter doldrums...can we laugh them off? By Bob Bowné January 7, 2016. © Special to Blogfinger.

Winter doldrums…can we laugh them off?  Asbury Park Carousel building.  By Bob Bowné January 7, 2016. © Special to Blogfinger. Click to enlarge.

FATS WALLER   “Winter Weather.”

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