editorial board of local asbury park newspaper impressed by Istar
Editor, the Asbury Park Sun:
I have always been a big supporter of Madison Marquette and many of the progressive things the company did in Asbury Park over the past 5-6 years. However, it is amazing what a little friendly “competition” [or collaboration] can accomplish!
Over the past year, Madison Marquette has pretty much “pulled back” on much of what it was doing in terms of progressiveness and progress on its properties. In just the past few months, we’ve seen a litany of stories in local publications, the Asbury Park Sun included, on what Madison Marquette would “no longer do or invest” in Asbury Park. And who do they think they are hurting? Their very own tenants on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, that’s who!
In the past several weeks, Madison Marquette “announced” they would no longer sponsor the weekly Wednesday night summer fireworks, or the Friday night bonfires. Just when the Asbury Park boardwalk and its businesses [new and returning ones] are trying to recover from lost months of operations and sales! Thank heavens for the owners of MOGO! Mr. Chung and Devino, MOGO owners, have stepped up to the plate and apparently are willing to sponsor the popular Friday night bonfires! Imagine that — a small pop-up business tenant on the boardwalk like MOGO — is willing to invest and keep the small businesses patronized with the popular family-friendly Friday night bonfires, whereas the landlord, Madison Marquette, is not!
I, for one, am happy that the Asbury Park City Council and City Manager Terry Reidy “stuck to their guns” on the boardwalk parking lot “issue” a few months back, rather than being held hostage and dictated to by Madison Marquette. Besides the city getting a guaranteed percentage of parking revenue, iStar has brought in a professional outside contractor to run the parking lots. One of the first things the new parking vendor did was install a booth in the lots, so the attendant doesn’t get wet or baked by the sun.
And let’s not forget how iStar brought in another new contractor, American Leisure, to create “The WaterFront Experience”, located where the former VIVE Sales Office used to be at 200 Cookman Avenue. The concept sounds bold and exciting, and who knows for sure if it will work? But at least iStar is willing to try different approaches, to see what will work. Plus, they are committed to employing local residents at its “Waterfront/Beach Experience”.
Madison Marquette looked great, when “that’s all we had” at the table. And on balance and in fairness, they did do alot in their first few years here in Asbury Park. But that has certainly changed. Amazing what a little healthy competition and new management, as in iStar’s vice president Brian Cheripka, has done in Asbury Park in just a few months, and undoubtedly will continue to do.
Let’s continue to nudge Madison Marquettte in the right direction. If they won’t do it, there are others that undoubtedly will.
— Marty Marino, Asbury Park