From the NY Post:
Few towns along the Jersey Shore have enjoyed a more visible beachfront revival over the past few years than Asbury Park, the vibrant summer enclave about 60 miles south of New York City.
After decades of neglect, the working-class town that helped launch Bruce Springsteen’s career has been transformed from a gritty backwater in the shadow of more popular locations along the shore to a hip beach destination sporting surf, sand and more palatable real estate prices than its affluent neighbors. It’s been a popular retreat since the 19th century.
But as the town’s profile continues to rise, attracting throngs of sunbathers from New York, New Jersey and elsewhere, so too do its home prices.
After initially struggling to attract high-end development, Asbury Park is now awash in upscale projects ranging from soaring luxury condos along the beach to smaller single and multifamily projects dotting its gentrifying downtown. Two new posh hotels regularly attract jet-setting weekenders, while a cluster of thriving eateries and arts outposts are turning the seafront town into a bustling port for foodies and culture vultures.
“I like to joke that it took 30 years for Asbury Park to be an overnight success,” says Neal Sroka, a Douglas Elliman broker. “But now Asbury is ready for more upmarket product.”
Sroka and Elliman are spearheading sales at the Monroe, a stylish beachfront condominium with some of the highest prices — and most luxe amenities — in town. The recently completed project has already sold 31 of its 34 units, Sroka says.
The four-story timber and stone property, developed by iStar, includes private outdoor terraces with freestanding grills and fireplaces. Owners will also have the added amenity of using the facilities at the Asbury, a nearby boutique hotel with a rooftop bar and movie theater, swimming pool and Atlantic Ocean views.
Prices at the Monroe start in the $400,000s. But the property recently closed a sale for more than $1 million, a price tag unthinkable for a condo in Asbury just a few years ago, local brokers say. The three units remaining at Monroe include one priced at $715,000 and two listed at $899,000.
“These kinds of prices are relatively new to Asbury Park,” says Ken Rickel, a broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, who has been selling homes on the Jersey Shore for decades. He’s currently listing a waterfront three-bedroom home at 1301-1303 Locust Drive for $1.2 million with 2½ bathrooms, a gas fireplace and original beamed ceilings. “You still have many moderately priced homes for sale in Asbury, but they get snapped up pretty quickly in this market,” adds Rickel.
The influx of development and new buyers pushing prices higher in Asbury Park means home values finally exceed pre-recession levels. The median price of a home reached $301,300 in June, an 18 percent rise from the same month a year ago, according to real estate Web site Zillow. Home prices are up 25 percent since June 2015, the realtor says.
Manhattan architect Matthew Berman first landed in Asbury Park more than a decade ago when there were very few signs of revitalization. “Back then people called us pioneers, but we were just really stupid,’” he jokes.
Much of that all-seasons feel is fueled by a booming restaurant scene and thriving nightlife aimed at the town’s numerous second-home buyers, many from the LGBT community. A snapshot: Porta serves up wood-fired pizzas and has bocce courts; Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten pours brews; just-opened Reyla specializes in Mediterranean plates. On most weekends the beachfront pulsates with mostly young residents who pack the shops along the restored mile-long boardwalk.
Sroka says the reinvigorated seaside gives Asbury the atmosphere of its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was a fashionable resort.
“Over the past few years we’ve really seen Asbury come back to life,” Sroka adds. “But now the city has finally arrived.”