After their daughter left for college, pharmaceutical professionals Darrell and Shawn Drennan planned to sell their home in Belle Mead, N.J., but they weren’t sure if they wanted a summer beach house or a full-time residence near the shore. Last May, they got both, paying $690,000 for a four-bedroom in nearby Asbury Park. “You have the conveniences of the city,” Mr. Drennan said, “and the privileges and the beauty of the beach.”
Long considered desolate and crime-ridden, Asbury Park has transformed in recent years, luring second-home buyers—largely millennials and empty nesters who want walkable, urban living in a vacation destination. Home prices are up, a long-stalled redevelopment of the waterfront is beginning to take shape and the restaurant scene is booming: Residents have to make reservations at eateries like Pascal & Sabine even in the off season.