From the NYT:
Carolyn Curtin moved to Asbury Park in 2002 and fell in love with a late Victorian house with a falling-down porch and heaven knows what other problems. She knew nothing about construction, but borrowed a level from a crew rehabbing a building across the street to check it out.
“I walked all three stories and threw down the level; everything was spot on,” she said. She bought the house at auction for $209,000 and began fixing it up. Then she fell in love with her plumber.
Today, Ms. Curtin, 55, has parlayed both romances into a business called Salvage Angel by the Sea. In a former Canada Dry warehouse on the west side of the city, she and her partner, Brett Holloway, collect the architectural fragments of Asbury Park’s upheaval for others to repurpose.
Ms. Curtin is one of the risk-takers who moved to this historic oceanfront resort when it was a capital of crime, drugs and disappointment. Many came, as she did, for the music and art scene that thrived amid the erosion, with small businesses giving the community its character as a culturally rich outlier on the Jersey Shore.
Now that large-scale development has finally taken off after a few false starts, the streets are safer (crime dropped by 13 percent last year) and Asbury Park is attracting more affluent weekend and full-time residents. Stalwarts like Ms. Curtin are poised both to profit from and mourn the transformation.
On the one hand, median home values have risen 42 percent in the last five years. Instead of eyesores, visitors see retrofitted historic buildings like the three-year-old Asbury Hotel, built in a former Salvation Army boardinghouse, and new construction like Asbury Ocean Club, a luxury condominium-and-hotel complex slated to open this summer. The once-desolate boardwalk and shabby downtown have become vibrant retail corridors.
On the other hand, the rising cost of rent, goods and services is putting a squeeze on the population of 16,000 — 30 percent of whom are living below the poverty line — and, some say, threatening the quirky energy that makes Asbury Park unique.