By: Jill Bartlett - Asbury Park Sun

Waterfront redeveloper iStar Financial’s plans for 34-unit condominium development received the stamp of approval from the city’s Technical Review Committee [TRC] Thursday.

The project, named “Monroe Condominiums”, is a three- and four-story complex slated for the eastern end of the block bound by Sewall, Monroe and Grand Avenues, and Heck Street, near the city’s downtown. A 28 unit K. Hovnanian townhome development called “South Grand” has already been approved for the block’s western portion.

Chad Oppenheim of Miami-based design firm Oppenheim Architecture + Design presented the plans to the TRC. Oppenheim said his firm has designed projects scattered all over the world, but, as a Monmouth County native, he is especially excited about the opportunity to design in Asbury Park and after 36 years, it is the firm’s first project in New Jersey.

“It’s exciting to be back home,” he said.

The Monroe Condominiums [shown below] were designed from the inside out to create the interior living environments first, and then to move outside to define the more “timeless, elegant” design of the facade to fit into the urban environment, rather than recreating something from another time, Oppenheim said.

Six one-bedroom units, 19 two-bedroom units, and nine three-bedroom units make up the complex. Units measure between 670 and 1600 square feet, he said.

Along the exterior facade, wood that “plays off the boardwalk” surrounds each window and lines the outdoor rooms, which measure 6-feet in depth. Mounted building lights will shine both up and down to illuminate the structure, and a concealed LED light under the building’s frame will run the length of the exterior along the ground.

“It gives a little bit of float to it [the building],” said Oppenheim.

A common rooftop area gives access to all residents, but some units contain their own rooftop areas that may include outdoor cooking space, he said.

Rooftop terrace fireplaces are being discussed, according to Brian Cheripka, iStar Residential’s vice president of land.

“What we saw with the Vive is that people really loved that option so we wanted to include it here,” Cheripka said.

A total of 51 off-street parking spaces are proposed for an interior portion of the block.

A question as to whether the name for the building would remain Monroe or be switched to a different spelling, Munroe with a “u,” arose, but developers will keep the original proposed spelling.

“We plan on keeping the name “Monroe”, as presented to the TRC,” said Cheripka. “Based on questions received from members of the TRC, our staff did some research and confirmed that the official tax records, and tax maps, indicate that the adjoining street is spelled Monroe, with an “o.” Since the name of this project was derived from its location in the city, we are keeping the name as presented.”

The TRC is an advisory-only subcommittee of the Planning Board that reviews new development in the waterfront redevelopment zone prior to the board’s full review.

The city council must also approve the project plans.

Asbury Park Now