Master waterfront redeveloper iStar Financial is currently exploring options on how to preserve Asbury Lanes, a retro bowling alley built in 1961 that has been operating as a music venue for the past ten years.
IStar has submitted plans to the city to develop a 110-room boutique hotel in the long-vacant Salvation Army building on Fifth Avenue. Asbury Lanes is behind the hotel site on the same block. In the submitted plans, iStar stated its intention is to “retain and rehabilitate” Asbury Lanes, and indicated that a breezeway could connect it to the hotel.
“We’re exploring how the music venue, which we believe is important to the city, can be improved and maintained,” said Brian Cheripka, iStar’s vice president for land.
IStar owns the building but leases it out to the current tenants, former building owners Pat Fasano and Vince Gifford, and managing partners Robert and Chris Fahey.
“The plan is to work with iStar to put significant investment back into the Lanes so it is there for generations to come,” said Robert Fahey. “It is old and falling apart.”
IStar is working with the tenants to assist with several short-term repairs to keep the building operational, including roof repairs, Cheripka said.
But a full rehabilitation is a “complex situation” since the building is in need of significant repair and has been struggling to turn a profit, Cheripka said. If the building is rehabilitated that would be undertaken in the second phase of the block’s development, he said.
Other necessary repairs include a new heating and cooling system and installation of new bowling lanes, which still operate with the original 1961 mechanisms, said Fahey, who added that while operating with the original parts is “cool,” they break down a lot and require consistent maintenance.
What the long-term vision looks like is on the table for discussion between iStar, the lease holders and the city, Cheripka said.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to talk to multiple sources and to see how Asbury Lanes can best operate moving forward,” Cheripka said. “We hope our actions, to date, signify there is a future for Asbury Lanes and we want to work that out.”
“We know how much this means to the city of Asbury Park and we are going to do our best to keep it here,” Fahey said.
Fahey and his partners are currently working with the city to bring an outside bar and seating area open adjacent to Asbury Lanes, on the old Fast Lane building footprint, in order to produce the necessary revenue to help with building improvements, he said.
According to the hotel plans submitted by iStar, land adjacent to Asbury Lanes on the western and eastern ends of the block will be used to provide the 121 on-site parking spaces for the hotel. Under those plans, the site of Asbury Lanes itself is not used for that purpose.
[Above screengrab taken from Google Maps.]