Asbury Park: Parsed & Sold

Asbury Park has gone silly. It’s still a cool town, my friends and I enjoy spending time there, but watching Asbury Park develop is very much like watching a friend make poor, short-sighted, and unsustainable decisions. 

written by: Elijah Benet

Asbury Park has gone silly. It’s still a cool town, my friends and I enjoy spending time there, but watching Asbury Park develop is very much like watching a friend make poor, short-sighted, and unsustainable decisions. Commercial & upscale residential housing occupies the redevelopment of the city with minimal industry outside of a communal workspace intermixed with professional services. How can this model allow a city to become more than merely a destination?

Years ago, the town didn’t have much going on outside of some local businesses, a nice art scene, and a solid local population boasting a Checkers that promised free burgers after every Asbury Park High School Football win. Suffering still from the blight of social turmoil throughout the 70’s, Asbury Park had a lot of room to expand. Riding the high tides brought by redevelopment and the gay community in the early 2000’s, the city was gifted a resurgence. Popular music acts and restoration abound, Asbury Park began the revitalization to uplift the local population culminating in the ninety-thousand people event of Bamboozle as it matured from the local event Skate & Surf.

Who is to live in these new buildings? Not locals, for sure.

Gentrification

Today, Madison Marquette, an investment firm, lists Asbury Park as a case study in their online portfolio. Detailing the utilization of surrounding affluent areas to create an economic surplus which has revitalized the town we’re now left with a new Asbury Park. With bars and restaurants for every demographic signed off by outside investors, every stereotype has a place in the new Asbury Park. 

A thriving industry of hospitality proves to make the city a destination; just look at all the NYC plates. However, there are no substantive opportunities provided to locals, no career options at large. Instead of opting for office space, a new condominium is being erected, complete with commercial space filling out the base. The building is yet another addition to Asbury Park that only provides for the new, not the existing. Who is to live in these new buildings? Not locals, for sure.

Nobody can blame Madison Maquette and other developers. They are a capitalistic entity designed to create profit wherever they see fit. I can't even argue that high tides raise all ships, as tax revenue will go back into the city. But, what I can argue is that the current development plan is not sustainable. Asbury is being grown as a fad, and fads fade. Even if I could afford to live there, why would I? Why would anyone my age live there? It's fun for art, food, and drinks; but where would I work? Who would design a city in the spirit of capitalizing the local ethos while excluding those who created it?

Showcasing the commercialization of Asbury Park’s spirit center stage is the Asbury Lanes. Not as famous as the Stone Pony to merit existence in this new administration, the Asbury Lanes suffered from a case of the capitalistic eminent domain in the name of the Asbury Hotel. Not even be shut down, the corpse is dressed up as a caricature of the Jersey Shore to be sold. A 24-hour diner with blowing lanes with the design of a 70's orgy party.

When revealed, the people whose spirit they used as a blueprint panned it, but why would they care? They didn't reopen it for us. It's attached to a hotel. It's for visitors. 

The worst part of all of this, I was a part of it, I thought I wanted it.

OpinionIan Nugentfeature