THEY’LL SOON BE STOMPING AT THE SAVOY ONCE AGAIN, THANKS TO A DEVELOPER WHO BUILDS A FUTURE WHILE HONORING THE PAST
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
The roster of additions to the Asbury Park landscape continues. Many are obvious, like the 16 story 1101 Ocean complex rising across from the boardwalk, or the significant upgrades along the boardwalk itself. Others, percolating a little more out of sight, will soon be revealed to an eager public. Basically, three main development entities are involved: iStar, Madison Marquette, and Sackman Enterprises. Among iStar’s projects are 1101 Ocean, The Asbury Hotel, and the renovated Asbury Lanes. Madison Marquette’s main focus has been on boardwalk redevelopment. Then there’s Sackman, whose niche is identifying legacy properties and rehabilitating them into creative new spaces, primarily multi use projects. Carter Sackman, president of Sackman Enterprises, gave us an update about the company’s most exciting projects, including a new hotel atop an old theater.
“We came to the Asbury Park community about 14 years ago and were optimistic change and growth could take place,” the developer said. “There were so many wonderful existing structures.” His parents, Alan and Barbara, founded their family business more than 30 years ago, focusing on restoring historic Manhattan brownstones. So Carter knew the drill, as it were.
Over time, Sackman Enterprises had expanded to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Colorado, Texas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Today, the business has three main components: property management (“We self manage our properties,” Sackman noted), general contracting, and development through rehabilitation and new construction.
Consider the historic former Steinbach department store, which sat vacant for years, serving as a reminder of Asbury’s dark days during the 1970s and 1980s. It became one of the city’s first rehabilitation projects when Sackman acquired it and undertook what Carter Sackman calls “intense renovations.” It reopened in 2007 with restaurants and shops at street level and 63 residential units above. It’s now seen as the catalyst for the community’s comeback.
Sackman, who grew up in Long Island’s Port Washington, joined the family business in 1986 after graduating from Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg College. After initially focusing on financial matters, he expanded the company’s reach into mixed use and new construction developments. It now has offices in Manhattan, Asbury Park, and Austin, Texas, where it moved five years ago to join the vibrant redevelopment scene there. Sackman’s oldest son runs the Austin office.
Sackman’s daughter, Morgan, manages Asbury Park’s House of Independents, a music and event venue in the heart of the business district. The versatile “black box” theater, which opened in 2015, hosts live music and is a vibrant social hub. Morgan cut her teeth in Asbury Park as founder of AP Vibe Downtown, working with the local business association on marketing and events critical to attracting a tentative public back to the redeveloping business district.
“The idea for the House of Independents was to bring an entertainment venue to downtown Asbury as opposed to the waterfront,” Carter Sackman said. (Downtown is where such legendary venues as the Stone Pony and Wonder Bar thrived, even during the down times.) “It’s exciting to have her working in and around real estate. It gives us time to interact, and that’s a great advantage as a father. She has a passion for it, and so do I.” Founder Alan, who’s semi retired, is still chairman, while Barbara sits on the board of directors.
“I was always drawn to real estate,” Sackman said. “My father and I discussed projects, and I was involved in different aspects. As a kid I loved to look at floor plans and layouts, thinking of ways to reconfigure spaces. My mother was a construction foreman for 25 years.”
“When we invested in Asbury, live, work, and play was envisioned for the central business district; that was our strategic plan,” he continued. “We hoped all would grow from there, and the plan has worked out pretty well.
527 Lake Avenue: A stellar venue, the multi level Festhalle & Biergarten opened in 2015 in a renovated brick structure facing Wesley Lake. Its vast outdoor rooftop bar and patio offer ocean views, and The Asbury Park Distilling Co. opened last year in an adjacent space.
601 Mattison Avenue: The former Post Building was renovated in 2005 and now houses Fish restaurant, 18 residential condominiums, and a commercial unit.
603 Mattison Avenue: The Press Building was purchased in 2002 and is now an office building with ground floor retail, including the Reyla and Barrio Costero restaurant complex.
550 Cookman Avenue: Built in 1937 and stretching from the House of Independents to the Brick wall restaurant, this restored Art Deco structure now has 31 rental apartments on its second and third floors, along with ground level retail.
574 Cookman Avenue: Designed in the 1920s by the same architectural firm responsible for Grand Central Terminal and Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, Paramount Theatre, and Casino buildings, the former Seacoast Trust Company is nearing completion. Sackman said restaurant applicants are eager to lease the ground floor. There will be three levels of residences above.
700 Bangs Avenue: This central business district “ground up construction” project will have 42 apartments and five stores, plus below ground and grade level parking. Completion is slated for this summer.
545 Lake Avenue: Site plans have been approved and the permit process is underway for 60 rental apartments to be built on a former parking lot between Asbury Festhalle and Moonstruck Restaurant.
607 Mattison Avenue: The project, a multi level parking deck adjacent to Reyla’s restaurant with more than 500 parking spaces and 90 to 100 apartments above, is in the planning stages. Sackman hopes construction will begin in 2019. A well known specialty grocer is expected to open at street level.
ASBURY’S NEXT HOTEL/THEATER
704-720 Mattison Avenue: The Savoy Theatre and Hotel will soon inhabit the former Kinmouth Building, which has been vacant for decades. Sackman purchased the site in 2012 where the 1911 Vaudeville era Savoy Theatre operated first as a burlesque house then as a movie venue, until closing in the 1970s. Bruce Springsteen filmed a music video there in 2012.
Renovation work was interrupted when the owner of an adjacent property inadvertently caused structural damage while excavating his site. at kicked o two years of legal proceedings, which were only recently settled. In the interim, the plans were altered and now include a 100 room hotel above the theater, complete with a rooftop pool and bar.
“We were initially going with micro units there and were weeks away from obtaining the permits, when the adjacent property owner undermined the foundation and we had a vacate order,” Sackman related. “With the addition of the hotel, our budget has more than doubled.”
The plan is to break ground in 2019 for what’s expected to be a 20 month build that will include restoring the facade and creating a 1930s exterior look. Sackman expects to open the theater and the hotel simultaneously.
“The goal is to preserve and maintain the theater, keeping the proscenium, the balcony, and other original features,” Sackman said. “The pool and bar will be about 100 feet above the ground, allowing for panoramic ocean views. The theater will be a banquet hall and wedding/event space for the hotel, but programmed events will also be held there.”
The space will be designed by Stokes Architecture, a Philadelphia firm that’s known for modern projects with a retro feel. The firm’s work includes the Starlux “Doo Wop” Hotel in Wildwood, the Chelsea boutique hotel in Atlantic City, and the Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor.
“There is lots of interest from strong international hotel operators,” Sackman said. “We are looking at one group specially and are currently working on an agreement. We want to bring in a very high end operation,” noting additionally that a hotel needs to have at least 100 rooms to obtain a liquor license.
“We purchased an additional lot and will have a pedestrian walkway with a Greenwich Village feel out to Bond Street, with access to Cookman Avenue,” he explained. Plans are to have one parking space per room at the new hotel. “The community is very interested in how parking is dealt with for each project, and we are sensitive to that.” A new heyday for Asbury Park, once known as the “Jewel of the Jersey Shore,” is rapidly coming to fruition.
“I’m surprised it has come along as fast as it has,” Sackman said. “The foreseeable future looks very bright, and we continue to buy strategic properties in Asbury. We are super excited with what we have accomplished and look forward to what’s next.”
Sackman New Jersey
603 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park
732.774.1330 / sackmannj.com