News

'Summer Experience' May Bring Bath Houses, Changing Rooms to Asbury's Water Front

Asbury Park Sun | May 23rd, 2013

Waterfront redeveloper Asbury Partners is pitching a new plan to keep visitors in the city longer on hot summer days.

The initiative, dubbed “Summer Experience,” would temporarily bring bath houses, changing rooms and hammocks to the city’s waterfront redevelopment area. Visitors would buy seasonal memberships to use the stations. Asbury Partners is seeking the city’s approval to operate the Summer Experience for the next three years.

“Ultimately, our goal is to build residential structures in the waterfront,” Brian Cheripka of Asbury Partners said. “Between now and when those are built, we continue to look for ways to improve the waterfront experience.”

Cheripka, with several architects and designers, unveiled the plan to the city council at the May 15 meeting, and will present some aspects of the plan to the planning board in a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29. Asbury Partners hopes to put the program in place before July 1.

THE VIVE SALES TRAILER

Asbury Partners would remodel four of the lots they own, starting with the current Vive sales trailer between Cookman and Asbury avenues [pictured]. They would create a long building with showers, restrooms and changing areas inside, as well as a hammock garden where people can “relax in between going to the beach and going out in town later at night,” said Brian Cheripka. Cheripka is the vice president of land for iStar Financial, the majority owner of Asbury Partners.

The temporary structures on this lot are being designed with the Ocean Grove tent houses in mind, architect Colin Brice of Mapos LLC said. They will have aluminum frames and canvas coverings. The long house with showers and restrooms will be divided into a men’s section and a women’s section.
Landscaping will include dune grass and dune fencing, Brice said.

The lot will be transformed over the next few weeks as the Vive town home complex sells out, Cheripka said.

COTTAGE NEAR PORTA

The Summer Experience will be staffed by American Leisure, a third-party firm that will oversee day-to-day operations.

American Leisure hopes to hire local people, and workers will be able to relax during breaks in the small cottage on the same block as Porta, on the southeast corner of First Avenue and Kingsley Street. Asbury Partners recently acquired that property in a land trade with Pat Fasano.
The cottage will be renovated and turned into a headquarters for the workers. It will not be open to the public.

PARKING LOTS AND GREEN SPACES

The Summer Experience will also set up shop in two waterfront area parking lots, with welcome centers just west of the Casino building and in the parking lot between Second and Third avenues.
“The parking lots are the first opportunity we have to interact with visitors who come to Asbury Park,” Chreipka said. “Part of our intent is to make sure the moment a person comes to the waterfront, they have a good experience.”

Some parking spaces will be taken out of use to make room for the initiative, Cheripka said. There will also be lockers available in the parking lots, and in the green spaces between the sidewalk and the boardwalk on Fourth and Sixth avenues.

Asbury Partners plans to landscape the green spaces, which will still be open to the public although visitors will need memberships to use the lockers.

CITY COUNCIL AND PUBLIC REACTIONS

The council voted unanimously in favor of the Summer Experience, although Councilman Jim Bruno said he was “not wild about it.”

Mayor Ed Johnson said it was especially appropriate after Hurricane Sandy to entice more people to spend time on the water front.

“This is going to be great,” Councilwoman Sue Henderson said, adding that the initiative could aid in linking the downtown to the beach front.

City resident Pam Lamberton said she felt the residents were not being included in the design.
“The experience seems to be for out-of-towners and I don’t want to forget the people who live here,” she said.

The Summer Experience is not restricted to out-of-towners, city manager Terence Reidy said. “It’s not like if you live in town you’re not eligible to do this.”