Progress in Asbury Park, developers shift focus from oceanfront to downtown

About 10 years ago, waves of ritzy, new multifamily buildings along Asbury Park’s oceanfront were expected to breathe life into a city in need of repair. Properties near the ocean made way for the four-story Wesley Grove development, the eight-story North Beach condominiums and a colossal project called “Esperanza,” a complex about 10 stories tall with more than 200 units.

Esperanza even caught the eye of Hall and Oates musician, Joseph Oates, another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to buy into a city that’s got Bruce Springsteen written all over it.

But these projects were too much and too soon for a city struggling to recover from 1970s race riots, crime and political corruption. North Beach had trouble filling its condos, and the $100 million Esperanza, which means “hope” in Spanish, never lived up to its name. The developer filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and all that remains are the bare bones of its foundation — an oceanfront eyesore.

City hall officials, developers and realtors now think smaller projects away from the oceanfront and near the downtown area are the best way to revive a city that was once an entertainment mecca for the Jersey Shore. They want to draw an atypical type of Shore resident.

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