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New Jersey developers looking to create affordable alternative to Brooklyn

This time of year, the southbound lane of the Garden State Parkway can become a bit crowded. With a few weeks left of warm weather, the Tri­-State area is full of residents who are eager to briefly stray from the city and migrate near the shore points.

But the robust real estate market of the Greater New York area is creating an opportunity for tertiary sections of New Jersey to develop and offer affordable, quality year-­round housing.

Last week, multiple partners announced a multi­-billion dollar revitalization plan that will “transform” a 1.25­ mile stretch of Asbury Park waterfront with more than 20 “carefully curated” residential, hotel and infrastructure projects.

The goal is to create a “Brooklyn on the Beach” that can attract residents looking to live, work and play in an affordable yet desirable area.

“We believe in Asbury Park’s potential as a one­-of­-a­-kind place to live, work, visit, and invest,” said Jay Sugarman, founder and CEO iStar, a real estate investment company that has been involved in Asbury Park for ten years.

iStar labeled the project as “one of the most significant redevelopments ever undertaken on the Eastern Seaboard, and one of the nation’s most ambitious urban­revival initiatives.”

The area of Asbury Park is a re-development area with a tremendous amount of history,” Chis Gaffney, Toll Brothers group president of the New Jersey and New York divisions told Brokers Weekly.

While Toll Brothers does not currently have any projects underway in Asbury Park proper, they are heavily invested in Central Jersey.

“I would say five years ago, there was a great amount of activity where three or four blocks between the boardwalk and out from the ocean they did a tremendous amount of demolition activity. The entire area is extremely blighted.

“It’s been a very tough road for Asbury over the years,” he continued before pointing out that the area is on the path to leaving those hard times in the past.

Gaffney is absolutely right when it comes to the area’s rich history. The seaside town is the home of The Stone Pony, a famous rock club where now rock and roll legend Bruce Springsteen played in the early years of his career. He still plays select dates at the venue.

“Asbury Park has a soul that makes it unique in America,” said Andra Andrei, the creative lead for iStar on the entire redevelopment project. His past projects include the Delano Miami, Royalton New York and The London EDITION.

“There’s a love for that behind this project. We’re mining the incredible history and one­-of­-a­-kind character to amplify what’s already here.”

David Bowd, who is tasked with overseeing the development of the project’s hotel, agreed. “Through the properties we’re developing, we have a once­in­a­lifetime opportunity to capture Asbury Park’s incredible sense of place,” he said.

Other notable partners on the Asbury Park project include internationally acclaimed architects Gary Handel (The Dream, Four Seasons Miami); Paul Taylor (Ace, Nomad); and Chad Oppenheim (Ten Museum Park Miami); renowned landscape designer Madison Cox (Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech, Spring Garden at the French National Museum at the Château de Blérancourt); and landscape architects Melillo + Bauer Associates.

Vive, a 28-­townhome project completed last year as a pilot project, sold out within a day of its initial offering. Landscaping, sidewalks, street lighting, and parking have all undergone major overhauls with iStar support.

iStar is now banking that the microcosm of Vive is an accurate representation of demand for the much larger endeavor. With what they’re rolling out, it may be hard to turn down the reimagined shore town.
In total, iStar’s new project will add more than 2,100 homes and 300 hotel rooms to the town, strengthening Asbury Park’s tax base, employment opportunities, and economic backbone. The 20­-plus project plan includes several notable highlights.

The Asbury, a 110 key independent hotel designed by Stonehill & Taylor Architects will be inspired by Asbury Park itself and will take the title of its first new hotel in 30 years. The Asbury is set to open early summer 2016 in a long­-vacant former Salvation Army building after extensive adaptive ­re-use work.

The Monroe, a stylish and sophisticated 34­-unit condominium designed by acclaimed Miami architect Chad Oppenheim, is also to projected open in the summer 2016.

Asbury Lanes, the legendary music and bowling venue that’s home to everything from burlesque to bingo, will get a careful refresh from iStar, its new owner.

1101 Ocean, a landmark mixed­use hotel/condominium/retail project designed by New York’s Handel Architects will serve as one of the tallest buildings along the Jersey Shore.

“The opportunity to design almost a mile of oceanfront land almost never comes along,” Sugarman stated, “and to have that opportunity in a place with as rich a history, as beautiful a setting, and with such iconic venues and architecture as Asbury Park, gives us a chance to do something really special. I know everyone on our team is committed to making that happen.”

Gaffney agrees that there is much to gain from revitalizing the legendary shore town of Asbury Park, and he feels that other areas of Central Jersey, have a lot to offer potential home buyers as well.

“Monmouth County has some very great history and there are so many different towns throughout the county, so there’s a wide variety of real estate opportunities,” said Gaffney. “Generally, Toll Brothers in the Monmouth County area, we have focused on the areas where you can build what we call our bread and butter – the typical single family home or perhaps a high-end carriage home.

“The town’s like Holmdel, Middletown, are all where we have active communities or communities that are soon to be brought online,” continued Gaffney.

Unlike Asbury Park, those areas already enjoy competitive real estate markets, but Gaffney feels that they have plenty to offer those looking to move south from Manhattan.

“Generally, Monmouth County Folks travel to New York to work and they work in Central Jersey as well.”

“The largest community that we are actively working on in Monmouth County is a community called Bamm Hollow,” Gaffney said.

Bamm Hollow’s properties average 4,000­5,000 s/f and run about $1.2 million. Another potential draw for transplanting New Yorkers is Red Bank, New Jersey.

“We’ve received a number of applications from residents who are interested in our West Side Lofts property that have come from New York City.” said Lewis Zlotnick president of Woodmont Properties while speaking about the group’s recent project in Red Bank.

“In addition to the rising prices in Manhattan, there are various perks that are drawing more and more people to New Jersey. At West Side Lofts, we find that walkability and convenience are equally as important as affordability. Our residents have access to nightlife, restaurants, the beach, theaters and entertainment at their door step at half the price it would cost to live in Manhattan but they also appreciate the convenience of a short walk to the train to NYC.”

As the areas that sit a short drive from Manhattan continue to develop on the heels of Manhattan’s rising market, Central and South Jersey stand to benefit from potential flood of locals that are looking for a new home.

While the area may not enjoy views of the Empire State Building, the more reasonable prices, and the increased job opportunities, could lead to a significant spike in tertiary Jersey real estate values in the near future.

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