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Thread: Asbury Park, NJ - revisited

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Asbury Park, NJ - revisited

    Some of you may remember that i posted a photo thread of Asbury Park a few years back. You can still find the thread on here but the links might be broken at this point.

    I took those pictures 6 years ago. Things had already started changing there but in the very slow and almost imperceptible way unique to small-money renewal. What's going on now is big-money, huge project, state backed, redevelopment.

    Trying to match some of the photos i took back then was very difficult because the landscape had changed so much. I had to match features in the background to be able to place some buildings that are gone without a trace.

    then


    now


    then


    now


    then


    now


    This one was tough because the original streets are gone and the blocks have been rearranged. I couldn't the same angle or magnification but look for the white building in the background on the right. This was, btw, the old Palace Amusements that was featured in the Boss's 'Tunnel of Love' video. So . . . then


    now


    and this was just behind me, off camera, which made approaching the scene on foot very disorienting because that old scene had been exactly that way for at least 20 years.


    then


    now


    then


    now


    then


    now


    then - this one was tough because the walkway for the old HoJo had been torn down


    now


    then


    now


    then


    now


    note the white chimney in the background, top-center . . . then


    now


    then


    now


    then


    now


    then


    now
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Amazing pictures. A little bit uplifting, but also sad. There is still such a long way to go. In a few of the photos it looks as though half-constructed buildings have been demolished. Were these shells the remnants of another failed attempt at renewal (perhaps in the 80s)?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    New Jersey's coast is dotted with interesting towns -- Asbury Park reminds me of what Atlantic City would perhaps look like and feel like if it were not for the casino industry. I can't say it has the appeal of say Wildwood or Ocean City since the waterfront area is very derelict, but it will probably be a more desirable place to be in the near future, if only due to real estate values in the state and some real architectural gems that obviously need a lot of work... I have always had good time in Asbury Park, when I lived in Philly and New Jersey. we'd go bowling there...

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Reminds me of home, some things improve drastically, others whither. Some things stay the exact same.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Thanks for the update. Still reminds me a little of Plainfield - by - the - sea.

    New Jersey's revised building codes are very friendly towards rehabbing older buildings and preservation generally. Yet another area where the state is in the forefront for of progressive legislation.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    A few more pictures

    This building wasn't "half-built" it was half falling down. It dates from Asbury's golden year, the 20s through the late 50's


    This building was built by a CT developer who was granted a large swath of beachfront by the state and city. He never intended to complete the project but had to show some progress to keep getting money and land. It was all part of his bankruptcy scheme and using money and property in NJ to protect other assets closer to home. He held up progress on that lot for 12 years.


    It's really hard to show the progress with so few pictures. The real change has happened downtown. 6 years ago it was deserted and desolate and could've parked in the middle of the street and not bothered anyone. No one lived there. There were perhaps 3 or 4 functioning bussinesses. Yesterday I actually had trouble finding parking. There was still hardly anyone out on the street but that's because the windchill was in the single digits. The cafes and bars were still full (the bar thing was weird because it was 4 in the afternoon on a thursday) Now there are no vacancies residential or otherwise. The only buildings still empty are those that are still under construction.

    The empty lots that once held derelict buildings haven't just been cleared to attract developers. They've been cleared by developers and all show signs boasting of the projects underway. This is not the same as past redevelopment efforts. Property in Asbury used, at best, 75% of similar properties in Ocean Grove or Bradley Beach. Now it's more like 100-125%



















    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Did i mention that DPZ is behind this project?
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    I love those pictures.

    I go to Asbury Park (Stone Pony) 1 weekend every June, every year it looks just a little better. I love that you can park anywhere.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    What is sparking the revitalization? I plan on doing something similar for several buildings here in Grand Rapids, and I hope that someone will do the same for Detroit. There are so many phenomenal buildings in Downtown Detroit that are in the spark of being renovated, the before/after photo’s would be amazing.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What is sparking the revitalization? I plan on doing something similar for several buildings here in Grand Rapids, and I hope that someone will do the same for Detroit. There are so many phenomenal buildings in Downtown Detroit that are in the spark of being renovated, the before/after photo’s would be amazing.

    Well, for decades Asbury was in the death spiral and neighboring towns like Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach weren't doing that well either. On the other hand, just north of Asbury, across Deal Lake in the towns of Interlaken, Allenhurst, Loch Arbor and Deal houses have always been been home to beachfront mansions.

    It was really only a matter of time until development pressure was such that something had to happen there.

    As i explained in a different thread, it's basically New York money driving up prices and causing major migrations and infill development everywhere but still, beachfront property in the biggest metro in the country can only be derelict for so long.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What is sparking the revitalization? I plan on doing something similar for several buildings here in Grand Rapids, and I hope that someone will do the same for Detroit. There are so many phenomenal buildings in Downtown Detroit that are in the spark of being renovated, the before/after photo’s would be amazing.

    Ya mean like the Book?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E94hOZQ_Zw0
    or its parking garage with more condos and first floor retail?
    http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=124181

    I am going to have to visit Ashbury Park on my next visit to Jersey.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What is sparking the revitalization? .
    The sandy thing, and the waterous thing at its eastern most point

    Basically, most of the NJ shore is now $500K or more for a place. $1million plus near the beach...this was only a matter of time.

    Place is still a $hit hole though.

    Going there feels like you are in a movie, where the population was exterminated. It still has the old school 1960s meters (the flip coin kind), the broken down convention center, etc. Blocks and blocks of vacant beach front property....and of course...the Stone Pony.

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    question

    I would love to get a copy of those photos. I have been working a documentation of the rebirth of Asbury Park

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I would love to get a copy of those photos. I have been working a documentation of the rebirth of Asbury Park
    Copy and paste my friend. Just give credit where credit is due.

    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Place is still a $hit hole though.
    You'll have to come down to Philly sometime so i can show you what a bad neighborhood really looks like.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 13 Mar 2007 at 3:33 PM. Reason: sequential posts
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Asbury Park Waterfront

    Brilliant Photographs! I live here and have seen the transition, first-hand. Just love the way you've done the before and after! Just love your perspective. Everyone who cares, are fighting to remain residents here, but after redevelopment, will this be a place for all of us, or just for some and I'm talking, MONEY! AP is a very diverse community. There's virtually NO redevelopment on the West-Side, where people of color, live! Love the pictures though!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sgboone View post
    There's virtually NO redevelopment on the West-Side, where people of color, live! Love the pictures though!
    I have family (italian) from the west side of AP. Granted they all lived north of Asbury Ave, which has never been a particularly bad neighborhood as far as Asbury goes. My grandparents eventually moved to a highrise on the lake then to a retirement home in Brick then when my grandfather died my grandmother moved to that highrise between the lake and the beach. All of the family funerals are still at Francioni Taylor (which is at 10th & Atkins and technically in Neptune) but even that neighborhood is changing big time (for the better).

    My brother has lived in Keansburg for years now. An affordable place but well known for its active racism. He said that a lot of displaced poor from Red Bank and Asbury are landing in Keansburg but that won't be for long either. It used to be that the whole Bayshore was the poor, white wonderland. (See the Kevin Smith movie Clerks or Chasing Amy or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-X4Zw-3l7c for good commentary on that - just turn down the volume if you're at work. We Jersey folk have loose tongues).

    When they built the ferry terminal in Highlands that town changed overnight. Then came the terminal in Keyport then the terminal in Port Monmouth. New York money changes things in a hurry. That's what's happening in Asbury. I don't know who else can afford $1 million condos.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    My summer job will be in Long Branch, NJ working on the Broadway redevelopment project. I went touring yesterday and calling it blighted would be a compliment. The property closest to the shore has been redeveloped with two major project, one which is a huge condo development that is kind of boring looking (but better than what existed before) that has largely been bought up as weekend getaways by people who are obviously largely not from the area. The second project is a nice upscale mixed use development catering to the weekend beach goers but not to the locals from what I saw. The project I will be working with is geared more towards the local and regional populations yet still having some national brands in place and "affordable" housing, demo is supposed to start late this year. There is another overhaul of two large parcels planned that are closer to the beach but one is up against a strong contingent of anti-eminent domain/condemnation folks that are pretty well organized. It's going to be interesting.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  18. #18
    We visited Keansburg when I was a kid (early 1970s) to go to an amusement park. Ughhhhh. I remember leaving the amusement park thinking I'd just visited the low-life capital of the universe.

    <<<<shivers>>>>

  19. #19
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Thanks for the fascinating photo tour. It's always nice to see other places...in such great detail. One of the many things I enjoy about Cyburbia.

    I always remember hearing about Asbury Park through the music of Bruce Springsteen, but this really puts it into perspective. I hope that place continues to improve. Like you said, being part of the NYC metro and on the oceanfront, revitalization is bound to happen.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    My summer job will be in Long Branch, NJ working on the Broadway redevelopment project. I went touring yesterday and calling it blighted would be a compliment. The property closest to the shore has been redeveloped with two major project, one which is a huge condo development that is kind of boring looking (but better than what existed before) that has largely been bought up as weekend getaways by people who are obviously largely not from the area. The second project is a nice upscale mixed use development catering to the weekend beach goers but not to the locals from what I saw. The project I will be working with is geared more towards the local and regional populations yet still having some national brands in place and "affordable" housing, demo is supposed to start late this year. There is another overhaul of two large parcels planned that are closer to the beach but one is up against a strong contingent of anti-eminent domain/condemnation folks that are pretty well organized. It's going to be interesting.
    You should've seen Long Branch 10 years ago before they tore most of that stuff down (i mean the part between Ocean Ave and the Boardwalk - As you'll find Ocean Ave. is the local shorthand for the road that runs from Sandy Hook down to Asbury regardless of what it's really called) But i worry if you look at it and think it's blighted beyond repair, as in, "tear this down and start over."

    What's happened in Long Branch is way worse than what is happening in Asbury Park. 90% of the redevelopment of Asbury is taking place on parking lots and grayfields. The rest of it is rehab and loft conversions in long abandoned buildings on long abandoned blocks.

    Long Branch was never abandoned like the Asbury waterfront. The stretch between the hospital and Joline Ave. and from the beach back to the railroad tracks has long been poor and run down but never worse than neighborhoods in New Brunswick - and with the same housing stock. It's never a place that couldn't have been turned around.

    It's been a cold and calculated pattern of displacement and demolition and it's been going on since the early 90's. It turns my stomach whenever i drive through there. The city sold "the Pit" in West End, which was public open space on the beach, to a developer in '93 and if you cruise past the intersection of Ocean Ave. and West End Ave. you can see the faux-Mediterranean result.

    It's the Elberon and West End politicos remaking the city in their own tacky image and in the process displacing the immigrant and african-american populations. In a less dramatic fashion but displacement all the same the white, blue-collar neighborhoods along Broadway (west of the tracks) and the lower-middle class neighborhood (black and white) in North Long Branch have been emptying out as people are forced to sell because they can't keep up with the property taxes.

    Scratch the surface and you'll see all of those b**tards sporting nice real estate portfolios while families who have lived there for generations pack up and head to Toms River or Lacey.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Going there feels like you are in a movie, where the population was exterminated. It still has the old school 1960s meters (the flip coin kind), the broken down convention center, etc. Blocks and blocks of vacant beach front property....and of course...the Stone Pony.
    Great description. And great photos! I was there in 2001, and the pictures bring back the experience. What a surreal feeling it was to walk around that area.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    You should've seen Long Branch 10 years ago before they tore most of that stuff down (i mean the part between Ocean Ave and the Boardwalk - As you'll find Ocean Ave. is the local shorthand for the road that runs from Sandy Hook down to Asbury regardless of what it's really called) But i worry if you look at it and think it's blighted beyond repair, as in, "tear this down and start over."
    I don't think all of it is blighted and beyond repair at all, certain sections of it are though. The project that I am working on encompasses a two block area straddling Broadway between 2nd Ave and Liberty/Memorial. Frankly most of the buildings are decrepit and are owned by slum lords that don't particularly care about their buildings. Most of them are abandoned and closed up and uninhabitable for numerous reasons as well as having some vacant tracts. The building on Broadway nearer to the Municpal Building are in better shape and there seems to be some positive refurbishing going on there without demolition. Being that I just moved to NJ last fall I have no knowledge of what it looked like other than through picture archives.

    What's happened in Long Branch is way worse than what is happening in Asbury Park. 90% of the redevelopment of Asbury is taking place on parking lots and grayfields. The rest of it is rehab and loft conversions in long abandoned buildings on long abandoned blocks.
    I don't agree with the eminent domain issues going on with the so called Gateway Project between 2nd Ave and Ocean or what they are doing south of Pier Village. I think that it reeks of the landholders and developers wanting to make a buck rather than really caring for the community. Obviously the project I am working on has some degree of return attached to it, but at least it is striving to be a destination for the community, have a mix of retail that will appeal to the greatest amount of people, have space for local business people, and have commercial/office space in addition to a mix of rental and owner housing with 1/5 of it being committed to meeting affordable housing guidelines which is a far cry from what has happened on Ocean Ave.

    Long Branch was never abandoned like the Asbury waterfront. The stretch between the hospital and Joline Ave. and from the beach back to the railroad tracks has long been poor and run down but never worse than neighborhoods in New Brunswick - and with the same housing stock. It's never a place that couldn't have been turned around.
    Agreed, but few people are willing to truly invest on turning it around because there is no motive to do so. When I worked for a city in South Carolina they enacted fairly stringent rental property laws to curb the growing problem with rental housing stock being owned by absentee landlords and had a database that tracked all of the information regarding ownership, management of the property if the owner lived more than 50 miles away, tracked violations on the properties with photo evidence, etc and it was required that the property be registered every year (no fee for this). After the landlords and management companies were presented with bills for the city to rectify violations they took notice and started doing what they should have all along.

    It's been a cold and calculated pattern of displacement and demolition and it's been going on since the early 90's. It turns my stomach whenever i drive through there. The city sold "the Pit" in West End, which was public open space on the beach, to a developer in '93 and if you cruise past the intersection of Ocean Ave. and West End Ave. you can see the faux-Mediterranean result.

    It's the Elberon and West End politicos remaking the city in their own tacky image and in the process displacing the immigrant and african-american populations. In a less dramatic fashion but displacement all the same the white, blue-collar neighborhoods along Broadway (west of the tracks) and the lower-middle class neighborhood (black and white) in North Long Branch have been emptying out as people are forced to sell because they can't keep up with the property taxes.
    The city recently reassessed from what ascertain after a very long while with property values tripling in many cases and people of modest means are just not prepared to deal with that kind of impact, especially those on fixed incomes which as you said forces people out. I drove around the south end and was dumb struck between the contrast of the tacky mcmansions around Elberon Ave south of Lake Takanassee and the rest of Long Branch. Seems like two worlds are colliding and we know which one will lose.

    Scratch the surface and you'll see all of those b**tards sporting nice real estate portfolios while families who have lived there for generations pack up and head to Toms River or Lacey.
    I am aware of this since we are acquiring the last properties on the two block swath and there are a number of property owners that have multiple properties. That said I am hopeful that the project I am working on will genuinely be able to accommodate multiple segments of the Long Branch population.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    Frankly most of the buildings are decrepit and are owned by slum lords that don't particularly care about their buildings. Most of them are abandoned and closed up and uninhabitable for numerous reasons as well as having some vacant tracts. The building on Broadway nearer to the Municpal Building are in better shape and there seems to be some positive refurbishing going on there without demolition. Being that I just moved to NJ last fall I have no knowledge of what it looked like other than through picture archives.
    yeah, you are right. The end of Broadway has been pretty sh**ty for a long time but it's really just a two block radius around that intersection (2nd & Broadway) and, ok, Liberty St is pretty bad too but not beyond repair. Funny though that 537 (Broadway) runs from the beach in Long Branch to the Delaware River in Camden. Neither end was a nice place to be for a long time.


    Agreed, but few people are willing to truly invest on turning it around because there is no motive to do so.
    This is the only part i really disagree with. Property values and demographic shifts are past that point. It happened organically on the west side of Red Bank.It happened in Freehold Borough. It was happening organically in Asbury Park and Long Branch until (to borrow a phrase from J. Jacobs) some rich people got together with the county and state to focus some cataclysmic money on a few areas.

    It would have taken a lot longer but you can't have half of a zip code of $150k houses surrounded by a county full of $300k+ houses for long before things start to level out - especially given the superior built environment of those towns.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  24. #24
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    Asbury Park

    [QUOTE=jresta;367515]This building wasn't "half-built" it was half falling down. It dates from Asbury's golden year, the 20s through the late 50's


    That building was the Albion Hotel. In fact, it was built sometime around 1941, using steel from the 1939 World's Fair (French Pavillion). At that time, it was considered an Art Deco building. The building may look like its falling down but in fact its entire frame is/was solid steel. I renovated that building in 1981-82 and was making progress but then in 1983 the City decided as part of its "redevelopment" the building had to be converted to residential but the remainder of the property--parking lot and swimming pool lot--would be taken by the City for the use of the redeveloper. An impossible task for me. I then decided to try to get approval to build on my site the same thing that was to be built by the redevloper and submitted plans for a new building with about 60 condos. Even though the block plan was for about 200 some condos and I owned about 2/3's of the block, the planning board turned down my application stating I didn't have enough land to meet the required land/building ratio for 60 units. They also stated they wanted the redeveloper to do all the building. It was pretty much the "you have to own BOTH Park Place and Boardwalk" in order to build. Unfortunately, the city owned Boardwalk. There is much more to this story but that's the short version.

    Also, although I believe the developer made many mistakes, the failure of that redeveloper was entirely caused by the City of Asbury Park.

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    The 8th set of "then / now" pictures are incorrect. They are two different locations on Cookman Ave. separated by 2 or 3 blocks. My family actually owns the property in the "then" picture.

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