LONG BRANCH, NJ-President U.S. Grant used to spend his summers here. And after President James Garfield was shot by an assassin, he was sent to this Jersey shore resort town to recuperate. He died here in 1881 from his wounds. An oceanfront green-acres tract is called Seven Presidents’ Park to honor the chief executives who graced this community with their presence. In the latter half of the 19th century and well in to the 20th, this place was what New York’s Hamptons is today.

But in the latter half of the 20th century, Long Branch went into a steep decline from which it has never recovered–until now. A redevelopment plan has been in the works for a number of years, and that plan just got a major kick with the announcement that three state agencies will donate $11.2 million to help fund Pier Village, a 16-acre mixed-use project that will be the cornerstone for a larger 135-acre oceanfront overhaul.

According to Jane Kenny, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, the money will be used for property acquisition and construction costs.

About a year ago, the city council designated Applied Development Co. of Hoboken, NJ as the developer of Pier Village. The council simultaneously awarded the contract for a nearby 27.5-acre site called Beachfront North to Applied, which has established a track record for this kind of project, especially in its hometown.

For Long Branch, “it’s been a long struggle,” admits Joseph Barry, president of Applied. “We’ve come to the point where we finally have all the money we need to do this deal.”

Total cost of Pier Village is expected to be around $80 million. Besides the state’s $11.2 million ante, the city is kicking in $2 million, and the developer will provide the rest.

The completed project will include 440 luxury rental units and as much as 100,000 sf of retail space, configured in several four-story buildings with ground-floor retail. The project will also include a parking deck, and heavily-trafficked Ocean Boulevard will be made more pedestrian-friendly. Ground-breaking is expected by next summer, with completion targeted for the fall of 2002.

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