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ASBURY PARK, NJ-The oceanfront area of this long-struggling Jersey Shore town has been making most of the redevelopment headlines recently, but the city’s Downtown area has been in straits at least as dire–and perhaps more so. Now, a major redevelopment project for one of Downtown’s major eyesores, the circa 1897 Steinbach department store building, could provide a new catalyst.

The city planning board has unanimously approved a plan by joint venture partners Emory Realty LLC and Sackman Enterprises Inc., the latter of New York City, to turn the long vacant 100,000-sf building into a combination of 63 residential lofts and 22,000 sf of retail space. The building has been vacant since 1979, and 1989 saw the destruction by fire and subsequent removal of its fifth floor.

In plans rolled out for the planning board by Emory and Sackman, the ground floor would reflect the building’s long retail heritage with 22,000 sf of shops and restaurants. The existing top three floors would contain 18 loft apartments each, and the fifth floor would be rebuilt with a total of nine lofts with terraces. The developers have also received approval for streetscape improvements relating to access to the building.

The redeveloped asset, which will be called the Steinbach Building, would also include about 100 off-street parking spaces. The developers have put a price tag of $7 million for the renovation, and say they expect to have it completed by next June.

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