Walking around the streets of Asbury Park, Chad Oppenheim sees music.
A wooden boardwalk plank is the rhythm that’s held the city together. Stones from old, historic buildings are like little melodies.
The Monmouth County native is the man behind the new luxury 34-unit condominium located just blocks from the beach at 601 Heck Street in Asbury Park: Monroe, where 50 percent of the building has already sold out.
On some days, Oppenheim’s job mirrors that of a musician rather than an architect.
“It’s kind of like hip-hop music, where you’re sampling and being inspired by beats,” Oppenheim said. “Here, it’s something of that nature.”
Except Oppenheim sampled his surroundings — throughout the new luxury condo, there’s elements that capture the spirit of Asbury Park.
“We wanted to really be harmonious with (the city’s) surroundings,” Oppenheim said. “Our goal is to blend into the beautiful part of any neighborhood — to reference the history and charms, but to also do something that’s timeless.”
Monroe is the latest project by real estate investment firm iStar, and is part of a bigger goal to make Asbury Park a world-class destination.
Monroe is part of the company’s 10-year, multi-billion dollar redevelopment.
The individual units inside the condo are priced from the mid $400,000 to $1.25 million. Monroe is slated to open later this year, and will serve mainly a New York second home-client base, Brian Cheripka, the senior vice president of land and development at iStar, said.
Oppenheim grew up in Holmdel, and today, he is a Miami-based architect with his own firm, Oppenheim Architecture. He has designed in 23 countries, and is known for his sustainable and functional designs — his most well-known projects include Ten Museum Park in Miami, Net Metropolis in Manila, Philippines, and Wadi Rum Resort, which is carved into the stone of Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert.
He was asked to design Monroe by Anda Andrei, the creative director and design lead for the redevelopment.
Cheripka said when Andrei came on board to lead the project, the two asked the question, “How can we create something that people at the Jersey Shore haven’t experienced?”
That conversation led the two to Oppenheim.
“As soon as we mentioned Chad, there was this immediate synergy,” Cheripka said. “We wanted to reconnect with someone who knows Asbury Park, Monmouth County and New Jersey, and someone who believes in the rebirth of Asbury Park. There’s this incredible opportunity to bring him back home.”
He said Oppenheim was able to capture the “urban cool vibe” of Asbury, yet add a new level of style and sophistication that is timeless. Oppenheim said from a young age, he fell in love with Asbury — the architecture, the history, the music, and the rawness of the city.
Monroe features sampled materials from the city. Throughout, there’s wooden boardwalk planks, and stones from old buildings. There’s a furnished private outdoor terrace with KitchenAid grills and Raw Urth Designs Napa fireplaces.
Units will feature Corian counter tops, Hansgrohe fixtures in the kitchens and bathrooms, Italian contemporary cabinets from Molteni, KitchenAid gas ranges and dishwashers, Liebherr Energy Star-compliant, stainless steel bottom freezer refrigerators, and open design showers in the master bath.
“Everyone involved is celebrating, and mining all the amazing parts of Asbury,” Oppenheim said. “We’re restoring them, and making them better than before. It’s not gentrification, but a celebration of what Asbury is and what it can do.”
Cheripka said with iStar projects, many in the community wonder, “Is this going to happen?” He said people in the community speculated the same with the new Asbury Hotel. The initial thought process for Monroe started in 2014, and they began building in 2015. He said the condo will tentatively open later this year.
“We’re not doing the same old model. We don’t want to be like any of other communities along the Jersey Shore,” Cheripka said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help bring back a city that not only deserves housing, but to make it a world-class destination.”
Upcoming projects for iStar include the iconic music and bowling venue, the Asbury Lanes. Cheripka said that is scheduled to reopen in 2017. The company is also working on approvals for 1101 Ocean, which will be 16 stories and include 128 residential units and 58 hotel rooms.
For more information, visit istar.com.