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ASBURY PARK, NJ-The New Jersey State Planning Commission has conferred “urban center” status on this oceanfront city, a move that’s expected to enhance its ongoing redevelopment efforts. The city is also the first in the Garden State to be granted such status since new state planning guidelines were adopted last year aimed at fostering regional planning.

“Asbury Park showed real commitment to applying smart growth principles in its plans, and we appreciate the work they did to achieve plan endorsement,” Acting Gov. Richard Codey says in a statement. In formally announcing the designation, state Department of Community Affairs commissioner Susan Bass Levin termed the city’s effort “a winning strategy.”

Specifically, the designation brings with it entitlement to more state financial grants. Other benefits include a speeded-up permitting process for redevelopment projects, as well as more technical assistance.

The centerpiece of this city’s larger redevelopment effort is Oceanfront Asbury, a 56-acre site that’s being made over with a variety of uses, focusing on retail and residential. Locally based Asbury Partners, headed by Larry Fishman, is the designated master redeveloper, and his group has brought in some of the state’s top development companies to carry out the project’s various components.

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