iStar Sends Greetings from Asbury Park

Real estate investment giant iStar is planning to transform the waterfront in Asbury Park, N.J.
1101 Ocean, Asbury Park

1101 Ocean, Asbury Park

Real estate investment giant iStar is planning to transform the waterfront in Asbury Park, N.J., with a long-awaited multi-billion redevelopment that will feature new hotels and residential units.

iStar, which changed its name from iStar Financial Inc. this week to better reflect its broader investment focus and real estate capabilities, plans to add more than 2,100 homes and 300 hotel rooms. There are 20 individual iStar-financed projects contained in the overall redevelopment plan.

“We believe in Asbury Park’s potential as a one-of-a-kind place to live, work, visit and invest,” Jay Sugarman, iStar’s founder and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to harness its character, beauty and heritage to build a future full of promise. And we’re eager to share it with the world.”

Sugarman noted that the opportunity to “design a mile of oceanfront land almost never comes along,” and stated the team was committed to creating “something really special.”

Joining Sugarman and iStar in the redevelopment project is Anda Andrei, formerly director of design with the Ian Schrager Co., who will be the project’s creative lead and help choose the designers and architects. David Bowd, creator of the SALT hotels brand and a former executive at Andre Balazs Properties, will manage, program and oversee development of an iStar-backed hotel currently under construction.

Architects involved include Gary Handel, Paul Taylor and Chad Oppenheim. Landscape designer Madison Cox and landscape architects Melillo + Bauer Associates are also part of the iStar team.

“Asbury Park has a soul that makes it unique in America,” Andrei said in a prepared statement. Some of Andrei’s past projects include the Delano Miami, Royalton New York and The London EDITION. “We’re mining the incredible history and one-of-a-kind character to amplify what’s already here.”

The Monmouth County oceanfront city is known for its music venues like the legendary Stone Pony and Asbury Lanes, now owned and being restored by iStar. But it has struggled to attract big development projects in the past and those that did come to the city stalled. iStar has been active in Asbury Park since 2010 and last year completed Vive, a 28-unit townhome project that sold out in a day. It has supported infrastructure improvements like relocating overhead utility lines underground, adding parking and upgrading landscaping and other beautification efforts.

The REIT is currently building The Asbury, a 110-key hotel designed by Stonehill & Taylor Architects that will be the first new hotel in 30 years. Scheduled to be completed in summer 2016, it will be located in a former Salvation Army building that is being restored.

Monroe, a 34-unit condominium project being designed by Oppenheim, an acclaimed Miami architect, is also expected to open next summer.

The biggest part of the iStar redevelopment plan is 1101 Ocean, a 16-story, mixed-use tower being designed by New York-based Handel Architects that will have hotel, retail and condo components. It is to be built at what is known as the Esperanza site, a concrete, unfinished eyesore that was abandoned by two previous developers. The Asbury Park Press is reporting that iStar is expected to invest at least $178 million in 1101 Ocean alone. Citing plans filed with the city’s Technical Review Committee this week, the newspaper said the tower is expected to have 128 residential units; 58 hotel rooms; 21,928 square feet of retail and a 426-space, three-story parking garage. It is expected to have an outdoor pool and bar area and 61,000-square-foot penthouse, according to the newspaper.

iStar is one of the largest investors in luxury residential developments in the nation and has done more than $35 billion of transactions, including $10 billion of residential projects over the past 20 years. The REIT also finances, invests in and develops real estate and real estate-related projects.