ASBURY PARK, NJ-The plan to redevelop this downtrodden community’s oceanfront survived the scandal-forced resignation of former city manager Terrance Weldon (for activities not related to Asbury Park), getting rousing support last week from the city council (see earlier story). Now, the first of what are expected to be many steps has been taken–preferred developer Asbury Partners LLC is under contract to buy five city-owned boardwalk pavilions for $3.5 million.

Asbury Partners, which consists of Lakewood, NJ-based Ocean Front Acquisitions and New York-based M.D. Sass Municipal Finance Partners, will refurbish the five structures and the adjacent boardwalk as the first step in the physical process of restoring this city’s oceanfront to its past glory. And the $3.5 million payment comes at the right time–the city will use it to cover a revenue shortfall of approximately the same amount.

The larger project, as earlier reported, involves 56 decrepit acres of oceanfront property, which will be redeveloped with new residential condos, shopping and entertainment and other amenities. Asbury Partners won’t be doing the redeveloping itself; rather, it will parcel the work out to a series of other developers, subject to city council approval, with Asbury Partners essentially supervising the overall effort.

“This is just the initial step in bringing the pavilions back to life, and the first step in bringing Asbury Park back,” according to councilwoman Kate Mellina, commenting at the public signing of the contract for the pavilions. “It feels good after all this time and months of negotiations to know that we’re finally getting off the ground.”

Asbury Partners is also slated to buy several other notable oceanfront structures, although no timeline has been announced. Among them are the historic Convention Hall; the Paramount Theater, scene of numerous notable events in this city’s history; and the Asbury Park Casino. The latter is not a gaming venue–rather it is a combination arcade and special events venue.

Also on the docket is the naming, by Asbury Partners, of some of the potential developers for the various elements within the redevelopment zone. That list is expected to be made public by the end of November.

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