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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove North End Redevelopment Plan’ Category

Light, air, and open space is what we want at the North End.   Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff in Ocean Grove, NJ. ©

 

By Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher and Paul Goldfinger, Editor.  Blogfinger.net

Let’s review some of the background of the North End Redevelopment Plan and then bring us all up to date.  At the heart of this post is the Township Committee meeting of October 22, 2018.

Redevelopment is a public project. A developer does not become a Redeveloper with the authority to develop an “area in need of redevelopment” until they have signed a contract with a Township called a Redevelopers Agreement. In Neptune Township there are “areas in need of redevelopment”, but there are no officially approved redevelopers.    What went wrong, and how can this happen?

In 2005, and again in 2008, at a time after redevelopers were selected by the Township for two large projects, the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee went into executive session behind closed doors to negotiate Redevelopment  Agreements for:

  1.  West Lake Avenue in Midtown
  2. North End in Ocean Grove

But the choice of redevelopers was done out of sequence in the Grove, and Redevelopers Agreements were ever finalized.   The Township should have waited for the Township Attorney to first negotiate and have signed the Redevelopers Agreements before selecting anyone as a Redeveloper.

These agreements would have provided  the Township Committee with guaranteed provisions to insure the timely construction of the redevelopment projects, the qualifications, and the financial capabilities and financial guarantees of the redeveloper (s) before the Committee selected a Redeveloper for either project.

Signing a Redevelopers Agreement would usually take place at a special 10 am meeting on the same day the Redeveloper is officially selected by resolution.  In the event that a developer does not sign an agreement within 10 days of being selected, he should be dismissed.

Ten years ago, our Governing Body did not properly vet their Redeveloper friends for the North End of OG (CMA and WAVE,)  and after being appointed as the only horses in a horse race, they never crossed the finish line due to the fact that they could not come up with the necessary money and then they all backed out.  Thus the North End Plan was never implemented.

As a result of that failure, the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee is technically still in executive session for all these years and that is why the Mayor’s Committee will not now reveal any information to the public.   And thus there are still no Redevelopers for these two projects.

Now, after 10 years of nothing being developed through the redevelopment process, and while everything is being developed all around us by “general development,” Dr. Brantley said, “I think we have to review all the redevelopment projects,” and then the Township hired a “special redevelopment attorney”  for the unenviable job of trying to pull these projects out of the mud.

Shortly after that, this past month, our new Mayor, Nicholas Williams, reports the following: “Thanks to the non-stop work of our Redevelopment Committee, residents will soon be hearing about two major investments that will transform our community for the better…..”

And then, like magic, there appears on the agenda of the October 22, 2018 Township Committee meeting, a Resolution, No. 18-369, regarding the West Lake Avenue project in Midtown.  The Resolution was approved, appointing BAW Development, LLC, as a “Conditional Redeveloper” while also approving a “Pre-Redevelopers Agreement.”  This agreement is for a 6 month period of time when a formal Redevelopment Agreement will be signed.

We believe that this so called “Pre-Redevelopment” process is not permitted by State Standards, Municipal Land Use Law, and Redevelopment Law.   We think that this new process has been invented to find an end-run around the usual legal procedures to move such projects along and which have failed so far in Neptune Township. In addition, this maneuver will prevent any other developers from bidding on these projects while the Township dithers.

The new Redevelopment Attorney said at the meeting that they will use the same process with the North End project in OG.   That is why we are extrapolating what was said about West Lake to what will likely happen for the North End.

We think that the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee is failing we the people by remaining silent.  Where is the transparency?

Ocean Grovers:  Keep your eyes and ears open as this situation evolves—our local government seems to be placing the best interests of Grovers at the bottom of the pile.

 

MUDDY WATERS:

 

 

 

 

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heading north - Version 2 2014

Leaving Ocean Grove to explore A. Park. Will the new North End be welcoming as it currently is? c. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©  Click to enlarge.

 

AMY WINEHOUSE

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This Township Committee has become an albatross around the necks of Ocean Grovers. Photo on the Ocean Pathway.  Vote them out!   Blogfinger ©

 

At the September 24, 2018 Township Committee meeting, Michael Brantley, who also is on the Mayor’s Negotiating Committee, said that he met with the North End Redeveloper  (OGNED)  about the North End Redevelopment project.

As a result, he said, “I hope to have some very good news about the North End plan before the next month is out.”

This is his way of saying “by the end of October.”  Of course, this announcement now is a nothing-burger.*

But, in view of this  “where’s the beef” moment, let us speculate:

We guess that the Committeeman will announce something that  will please the new Redeveloper so that he might make a ton of money defacing the North End of OG. And/or it is news that will please the Township Committee because of all the tax money.  And/or it will please the CMA for a variety of financial reasons.

What will he have to say that  will please the citizens of Ocean Grove?  Probably “gornish,”  (A Yiddish word which means “nothing.”)

 

Meanwhile, two residents previously asked the Committee to have the Redevelopment Attorney attend this meeting to explain the violations of land use law going on here.  Do you think he came?    Of course, he did not, and this is another example of the massive indifference towards the people of OG by the Township Committee.

 

* Merriam Webster definition:   “The term nothing-burger emerges in the media whenever something is downplayed as irrelevant or insignificant. Although the term itself is not new, it has taken on new life in recent months as the au courant way of saying “there’s nothing to see here.”

 

Committee Theme Song.  “Ain’t Misbehaven.”   HANK WILLIAMS, JR.

 

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Vigilance is needed to protect Ocean Grove’s North End. Paul Goldfinger photo

 

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This painting of the Aurora by Jack Bredin shows the relative size of the Ocean Grove North End “parcel” which is partially revealed as the tan area bordering the boardwalk and Lake Avenue.

 

By Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher @Blogfinger and Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor.

In parts I and II  you saw how the North End Redevelopment process began in 2008 with the (public) North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP) and then went 10 years without any real progress.  The Mayor’s negotiation team was appointed in 2008 and has had some personnel changes since then.  It still exists to this day and so far has accomplished nothing.

In 2011, WAVE and the OGCMA came up with a new private plan, but it was submitted to the Township, and no action was taken.

In 2013 the CMA was supposed to break-ground  with their new private plan, but that never happened due to Sandy.  No  plans were ever filed or permits issued.

Then in 2015, Committeeman Randy Bishop publicly  introduced the 2011 plan for the first time,but the Township Committee took no action.s

The only plan which was ever approved by law in Neptune Township was the North End Revelopment Plan of 2008 which is still in effect to this date.

Nothing further happened, at least as far as the public was concerned, until 2018.

In April, 2018, Michael Badger, President of the OGCMA, announced  by press release, that they had signed an agreement with a new developer called OGNED—-Ocean Grove North End Development,LLC.  We posted that information (see link below)

In June, Blogfinger posted a piece about the sloppiness of language used in discussing these latest issues:

North End: sloppy ideas and language June 25 , 2018.

This month we learned the  identity of OGNED and find that it is probably a reincarnation of WAVE. The information below came from the Clerk’s Office in Neptune Township.

“The Stockholder Disclosure Certification submitted by OG North End Development, LLC shows the stockholders who hold 10% or more of the issued and outstanding stock:”

William P. Gannon II

Paul R. Gannon

Joel S. Brudner

Christopher T. McCallion”

The certificate also revealed their addresses, which we did not include here.

 

Recently we also learned the identity of the Mayor’s negotiation team:

According to the Township Clerk, “The Redevelopment Committee” consists of Dr. Michael Brantley, Mayor Nicholas Williams, Land Use Administrator, Township Engineer, Business Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, Township Planner and Redevelopment Attorney.    Brantley has remained on this committee for the last 10 years.

The Clerk also informed us that “the Redevelopment  Attorney is Maraziti Falcon, LLP  at 150 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Short Hills, NJ.”  This attorney is part of this negotiating team, representing the Township.

So here we are in September of 2018, and this is what we know:

a. The “options agreement” signed by the CMA and OGNED  (April, 2018) names OGNED as as the “developer of the North End land parcel.”  This agreement was signed by the CMA even though they are not a “redeveloper.”

This is a private agreement which has nothing directly to do with the public Redevelopment Plan approved by Neptune Township in 2008. It would be a violation of land use law for the Township to change the NERP for this private plan without lawful procedures.

b.  Mayor Nicolas Williams and his committee have been re-negotiating a 10 year old agreement with a “self-appointed” redeveloper  (OGNED).  The original unofficial redevelopers were the CMA and WAVE.  Mayor Williams  refuses to explain the nature of the secret negotiations.

The principals now (developers and politicians) seem to be in a heated rush to get this done ASAP after years of little or no movement. But they have stalled because the Mayor says that his team  is “not getting what we want.” 

But he won’t disclose what he wants despite public pleas at recent Committee meetings.  The lack of transparency is over-the-top.

c. If or when the Mayor signs off on this new private plan he will be certifying that this new private North End project is in the best interest of the residents of Ocean Grove, something that no prior mayor has done since 2008.

If this new Redevelopers Plan with new re-developers is to replace the 2008 NERP, the Township will have to begin the process all over again including bidding for redevelopers, a bona fide Redevelopers Agreement, certification of financial integrity, public hearings, all necessary permits including DEP, and then Committee resolutions and approvals.

After all, this was and is still a public project.  That’s how the CMA and WAVE originally got the blank check for whatever zoning they wanted in the first place. Before that NERP ordinance in 2008, the North End was zoned for single family houses.

Mayor Williams recently said that that he was given a “Pre-redevelopment Agreement,” during negotiations,  but what is that?   He says that the document has gone back and forth over “a couple of items missing on it, so they gave it back to them to work on.”

Vito Gadaleta, the Business Administrator, is on that negotiating team and he said, “The next step would be to get the documents which will be reviewed by the Redevelopment Committee and the Redevelopment Attorney.”

He also said, “If there is a comfort level, there would be a discussion about appointing a conditional redeveloper for the site while the formal development is negotiated.”

This makes no sense.  New Jersey  Land Use law makes no provisions for “conditional redevelopers” or “comfort levels.”

A review of the history of all this reveals that the “formal development” is the March 24, 2008 North End Redevelopment Plan by Martin Truscott.

d.  At the last Committee meeting, Jack Bredin and Diane Harris requested that the Mayor invite the new Redevelopment Attorney to attend the next Township Committee meeting so he can explain why this Neptune Township process appears to be inconsistent with the Local Housing and Redevelopment Law.

e.  So the CMA and OGNED and the Mayor seem to think that they are on the verge of a breakthrough, but they continue to be silent about the details, and, as before, we worry about the perception of impropriety at the Municipal Building.

perception of impropriety

f.   Plan below is from Asbury Park’s Redevelopment Plan for the Wesley Lake area.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so here is one conspiracy theory:  In 2002, Asbury Park came up with a Waterfront Redevelopment Plan and Waterfront Redeveloper’s Agreement for the construction of Wesley Lake Village  (see above). The diagram shows “several smaller scale residential structures and pedestrian ways on the Asbury side.”

But if you look at the graphic, you will see the outlines of the Ocean Grove North End parcel.  Nothing else in OG is shown. This leads us to suspect that the OG North End Plan will result in the Asbury developer  (iStar) taking over the OG North End in order to pull Asbury and the Grove together near the lake. Remember, iStar has done nothing so far by way of development at the other side of the Casino.

Part II of this report.

Who is OGNED? Sept. 2018

The bottom line is to demand that the Township take down that wall and offer complete transparency to the North End public process.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

THE FIFTH DIMENSION:

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Rev. W.B. Osborn was the founder of Ocean Grove. This bio was written by his wife. Let’s see if she writes about a commercial North End.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfnger

Speaking at the Home Groaners meeting on August 6, 2018, CMA President Michael Badger said, ” The maps of Ocean Grove from the 1880’s contained a plan for the North End hotel and it will be excellent to have the founders’ vision fulfilled again,” 

This quote is from the Coaster which reported on that meeting.

Here is a  CMA map from  about 1879 when Stokes and other founders were in charge, so you know that it is very early:

 

Ocean Grove from about 1879.  Map commissioned by Dr. Stokes, President of the CMA.  Click on map for details. North End has 26 lots for single family homes. See Jack Bredin’s comment below about this map.

 

Ocean_Grove_1889

Ocean Grove 1889.  You can see 12 lots at the North End property.   Those lots were for single family houses for Methodist clergy.  No sign of a planned hotel there.

 

1881 Library of Congress map. Detail below this map.

 

 

 

Library of Congress map of OG and A. Park 1881. No North End hotel. There is the Ross bathing pavilion located there, by the ocean. The North End is otherwise shown as a barren lot.  Click to enlarge.

 

Click on these maps  to see the details. If you look carefully near the Ocean at the North End you will not find a “plan for the North End Hotel.”

Obviously Pres. Badger would like to find a precedent for a “very early” North End Hotel plan to back up his latest (2018) new North End plan.  He says that there are maps that reveal “the founders’ vision” for a North End hotel.

We have never seen such a map, so it would be good if Pres. Badger could back up his statement with at least one of his 1880’s  maps, and we would be pleased to post it on Blogfinger.

We have reviewed Elwood Stoke’s biography as well as the book about early Ocean Grove written by Mrs. W.B.  Osborn.  Neither of these books mention a hotel.

In fact Mrs. Osborn tells us that James Bradley, who developed Asbury Park, saw that the two cities might compliment each other, so he offered Osborn a chance to partner with him and make some money.   But Osborn refused saying that he founded Ocean Grove not for money but for the “glory of God.”

The Grand Ocean Grove North End Hotel complex opened in 1911, about 40 years after the founding—hardly a good precedent for 2018.

Besides, even if that founders’ vision can be verified, who’s to say that it justifies the CMA’s 2018 North End Plan to build a hotel?  OG’s history is full of hotels, but zoning normally would not allow one to be built from scratch now.

ELVIS PRESLEY

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Michael Badger, CMA President, at the North End site. APP photo

 

In  a press release in April, the CMA mentioned the Ocean Grove North End Development LLC   (OGNED).   This entity was identified by the President of the OG Camp Meeting Association as the new “developer” for the “North End  oceanfront site.”  Pres. Badger put out a press release about this in April, and the link to that is:

CMA: OGNED press release

Badger said that OGNED “stepped forward with a sensible development plan.”   But he did not identify that entity.

We asked the Township Clerk to identify OGNED.   He sent us:   “The Stockholder Disclosure Certification submitted by OG North End Development, LLC which shows the stockholders who hold 10% or more of the issued and outstanding stock to be:”

William P. Gannon II

Paul R. Gannon

Joel  S. Brudner

Christopher T. McCallion

The certificate also revealed their addresses, which we did not include here.  It did not include signatures or a date.

 

For some time the identity of WAVE was requested at Committee meetings, but that information was never disclosed, so we don’t know if OGNED is the same as WAVE or not.

Since the North End Redevelopment Plan is a public project, this information should be disclosed publicly.

Badger’s press release did not mention the “negotiations” now ongoing with Neptune Township, but he did say that “more detailed planning and construction plans will be subject to township building regulations, when they are brought forward.”

 

DON AND JUAN:

 

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Wesley Lake, looking toward the OG North End: a space where light, breezes and ocean views currently prevail. Paul Goldfinger photo © Click to enlarge.

By Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher at Blogfinger.net and Paul Goldfinger, Editor

This is the second of our three-part post about the Mayor’s Negotiating Team which currently has been in secret sessions with the Camp Meeting Association’s “developer”  which, according to Michael Badger, President of the CMA, is the  “Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED)”

We don’t know where WAVE went.

In this three-part series of posts, Blogfinger is reviewing how the process has evolved, so now we present a time-line to document what has happened over the last 10 years, beginning in 2008, with approval by resolution of the North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP)  by the Neptune Township Committee.

2011:  In June of 2011, three years after the 2008 NERP (“public plan”) was adopted, WAVE and the OGCMA prepare a “private” general development plan to replace the original NERP.

This private  plan is submitted to the Township. It is titled “North End–a Destination Resort,” and it is not a redevelopment plan. 

The Neptune Township Committee fails to share this proposal with the public. They also do not reveal the fact that getting involved with this “private” plan would require pulling the plug on the entire 2008 NERP and then starting over. The Township makes no changes to the NERP.

2012: The OGCMA announces that they are ready to break ground at the North End in early 2013, but for what plan?  And they have no permits–particularly from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Then comes Sandy on October 29, of 2012.

2013:   The OGCMA announces after Sandy that “the developers are going back to the drawing board.”  What they fail to announce is that new elevations would be required.

2015:  The public becomes aware of a  “new private plan” when Committeeman Randy Bishop abruptly pops up at a Committee meeting and reports, “After exhausting negotiations, where everyone involved had to give something up, we have agreed to a new plan for the North End.”

But this is nonsense. He is referring basically to the private plan that was prepared four years earlier  (see 2011 above,) and the Township Committee already knew all about it.

And, by the way, what are the new  elevations?   No detailed specifications are made available. And no changes can be made to the original 2008 NERP without going back to square one.

The Ocean Grove Home Owners Association takes credit for negotiating the new private plan with the OGCMA, and maybe they did; the Township Comedy certainly did not. The only comment from the baffled Neptune Township Committee about the Bishop plan is, “This is a mistake.”

Actually, the plan is not the mistake—making it public is.

The new plan is not approved by the Township.  It just floats out of the meeting room and fizzles up into the atmosphere.

2018.   As we reported in Part I, the CMA sends out a press release in April 2018  (link below) claiming another new plan and announcing a new “developer” called OGNED. See our initial comments about that at the link (OGNED) below and then look at Part I where we also linked to it:

OGNED

In Part III, the last part of this series about the Mayor’s Negotiating Team, we will bring you up to date on this subject.

 

NOTE:  According to the Township Clerk, “The Redevelopment Committee” consists of Dr. Michael Brantley, Mayor Nicholas Williams, Land Use Administrator, Township Engineer, Business Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, Township Planner and Redevelopment Attorney.

He also informed us that “the Redevelopment Attorney is Maraziti Falcon, LLP  at 150 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Short Hills, NJ.”

 

KEVIN SPACEY   “That Old Black Magic.”       From the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

 

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OGCMA PRESS RELEASE:

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OCGMA) Grants Development Rights To Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to Develop North End Ocean-Front Site

“(Thursday April 26, 2018)  The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) has announced that it has signed an “Options Agreement” with the Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to allow OGNED to develop the land parcel between Wesley Lake and Spray Ave; the boardwalk and Beach Avenue.  This is the site of the former North End Hotel, which burned down in 1974.  The parcel has laid fallow for over 40 years, and has been an eyesore to the residents of Ocean Grove.

“In 2005, OGCMA engaged a developer to create a landmark hotel and residential project to address the underdeveloped beachfront real estate. After discussion with the residents of Ocean Grove and the Township of Neptune, OGCMA significantly redesigned the requirements for the redevelopment.  The originally planned housing density was scaled back.  The redevelopment lowered the number of condominiums by well over 50% and added ten single family homes.  The revised plan contains a 40 room “boutique hotel”. The plan includes a parking garage which will have enough spaces for the residents and hotel guests.

“We are delighted that OGNED has stepped forward with a sensible development plan that will respect the historical and architectural elements of our community,” said Michael Badger, President of OGCMA.

“More detailed planning and construction plans will be subject to township building regulations, when they are brought forward.

“After lengthy negations with OGNED, the Trustees of OGCMA unanimously approved the Options Agreement,” said OGCMA President Michael Badger.  “OGNED will have a 99-year land lease to develop the property, in exchange for which the community will see a beach-front hotel, aesthetically new housing designed to respect Ocean Grove’s Victorian architecture, and some boardwalk retail shops. The maps of Ocean Grove from the 1880’s contained a plan for the North End hotel and it will be excellent to have the founders’ vision fulfilled again,” Badger added. “

Editor’s Note:   This surprise announcement raises all sorts of questions including whether this is still a “redevelopment area” with the zoning that is imposed by such a designation.  Blogfinger will be looking closely at this announcement.

And where is the OGHOA on this topic?  Were they complicit or were they left in the dark?

And finally, where is the Township Committee on this?  If Neptune has been participating in creating this new plan, why haven’t they represented the citizens of the Grove by mentioning this at their public meetings?  Will they make a statement now?  Will they pass a resolution?

Blogfinger spoke to the Mayor two days ago about a variety of public issues, and he said nothing about this.

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Mayor Nicholas Williams is now involved in the train wreck called the North End plan.  Blogfinger photograph. December 2017 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger and Jack Bredin, Reporter and Researcher @Blogfinger.

At the Township Committee Meeting on February 26,  2018, Committeeman Brantley said, “At our next meeting we will have some big announcements to make regarding re-development.”  Neptune has a number of areas in need of redevelopment, including the OG North End.

At the Committee meeting of March 12,  2018,  Mayor Nicholas Williams reported, “We have been showing developers around town and telling them what we should like to see developed, and they are making proposals on what they would like to build.”

Then he went on to say, “There are two developers interested in the West Lake Avenue and the North End (OG).  We have a meeting next week with WAVE and the Redevelopment Attorney.”  Will WAVE be informed that they need to “fish or cut bait?”

This reminds Blogfinger of a photograph (below,)  posted on our site,  of Committeeman Michael Brantley showing the North End property to unnamed developers on July 27, 2016.

This Blogfinger photograph of Dr. Brantley giving a tour of the North End to developers. July 27, 2016. ©

This sounds to us like the Township may be fed up with the interminable delays regarding WAVE and the North End project which has floated like flotsam in the Atlantic Ocean for nine, non-transparent years, leaving an ugly ocean front dirt lot for Grovers and visitors to admire.

During the public portion, Jack Bredin went to the microphone to say that any meetings regarding this “area in need of redevelopment” should be open to the public. He stated that there are procedures and rules spelled out in New Jersey Land Use Laws regarding such transparency.  He said that if he were the mayor, he would never be showing developers around and/or having “private discussions in the back of some limousine”  about the project because “that would give the perception of an impropriety.”

Note that the Redevelopment Attorney was not present at either the February 26 or the March 12 meetings.

It’s time  for the Committee to do what’s best for the town and break off its relationship with WAVE, even if breaking up is hard to do.  And while they are at it, it’s time to cancel the Revelopment Plan and follow the Master Plan for single family homes on that property. All New Jersey Land Use laws should be followed and all future discussions on this issue should be held in public view.

NEIL SEDAKA:

 

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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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