Investing in change

Local residents seek out real estate undergoing redevelopment.

By: Gwen McNamara
   What does the rebirth of seaside- city Asbury Park have in common with the creation of a mountain resort town in Vernon?
   You wouldn’t think very much, but in fact both development projects have caught the attention of numerous area residents looking for a great real estate investment.
   What makes the projects so attractive is the combination of each location’s investment potential and nostalgic presence.
   "It’s a matter of magic and logic," said Doug Ganssle, director of sales for Mountain Creek, a popular day-trip ski center in Vernon being transformed into a year- round mountain village by resort developer Intrawest, known for resorts like Whistler/Blackcomb in California and Stratton in Vermont.
   "People want to spend wisely and invest in real estate that will be successful and provide a return on their investment," Mr. Ganssle said. "But it’s not just about stick, brick and mortar. The project has to have an emotional tie. Our mission is about reconnecting the family. We offer a convenient ski, golf and village experience, where people can get away without traveling too far."
   Tony DeMiglio, a Princeton Township resident who purchased a condominium in Mountain Creek’s Black Creek Sanctuary three years ago and recently decided to buy a studio in the Appalachian, a slope-side ski-in/ski-out hotel and condominium complex being built to anchor Intrawest’s village concept, agrees.
   "We decided to buy in Mountain Creek for our own use and as an investment," he said, pointing out Intrawest’s rental program made the purchase particularly attractive.
   "Nobody wants to buy a place and have it sit," Mr. DeMiglio said. "With the rental program, they maintain my entire property and rent it out. Intrawest takes a percent and you get the rest. It’s a simple process."
   But being able to earn money on his property is not the only reason he found Mountain Creek so appealing.
   "It’s close enough that if there’s a snow day, we can drive up and enjoy ourselves," he said. "When we first visited the area we realized the property had huge potential to increase in value, but it was something we could also use and enjoy."
   In Asbury Park, where Paramount Homes recently broke ground on 157 waterfront condominium units — the first phase of a three-building project called North Beach Asbury Park, which has been dubbed the centerpiece of the city’s $1.2 billion redevelopment effort — demand is so high there’s a 1,200-person waiting list for the units, which won’t go on sale until later this winter.
   Alan Blum, a lawyer who lives with his wife in West Windsor, is one of the more than 50 area residents on that list. He decided to sign up after reading an article about Asbury Park’s redevelopment online.
   "My wife and I have always been interested in having a beach home," he said. "I did a Google search and came upon an article on Asbury Park. What’s happening there looks like something that will stick, so I got the name of the builders and got on the list."
   He sees the potential of owning a condo at North Beach as both a personal pleasure and investment.
   "I’m not sure if Asbury Park will have the draw for lots of people saying, ‘Hey, I’ll buy this and rent it out,’" said Mr. Blum. "But for us it’s more of a long-term investment. Everyone always hopes the value of their property will go up. As Asbury Park gets bigger and better I’m sure the value of the property escalate."
   Pam Bradshaw, of Plainsboro, decided to sign up on the VIP list for more nostalgic reasons. She used to go to Asbury Park as a kid and in her early teens, and this past spring returned with her husband on a spur of the moment trip, where they went on the newly renovated boardwalk and sat and listened to a concert.
   "The area has so much raw potential," she said. "The area has such a beauty and grace to it. I really do believe this venture will be successful. But we decided if we buy, it will be a getaway for us. We have no plans to rent it out."
   Susan Senders, a Hillsborough resident and real estate agent, believes the project will be a great place to retire.
   "Being in real estate, I’ve kept tabs on what’s been happening in the area," she said. "My husband and I already own a property in (nearby) Bradley Beach. We bought there because Asbury Park wasn’t ready when we decided to make the purchase, but Asbury Park is now building up and we want to be a part of that.
   "We’d like to sell what we have and eventually use the place for our retirement," she continued.
   She’s very interested to see what the floor plans and pricing will be.
   "I have an idea that it’ll probably start around $400,000, which may or may not be in our range," she said. "It’s exciting to be part of such rejuvenation."
   Carolyn Villani, vice president of sales and marketing Paramount Homes, who plans to purchase a condo unit with her son, is not surprised by the draw of North Beach at Asbury Park.
   "We didn’t have to do any marketing," she said. "People know the history here. It used to be a wonderful town with incredible shopping. In the 1960s, the malls came in, decimating the downtown. Since then, developers have tried to remake the oceanfront, but the timing’s never been there."
   With the baby boomer generation, which probably enjoyed Asbury Park in its youth, looking to retire, today the timing is right, said Ms. Villani. That, combined with the project’s attention to detail — it includes a 24-hour doorman, concierge service, two-level parking and a variety of floor plans — will make Paramount Homes’ plans a success, she said.
   "I’m a shore girl at heart, but I think this redevelopment taps into something way beyond local interest," Ms. Villani said. "We’re making history here and it’s exciting to think you can be a part of that."
   For more information about Mountain Creek visit, for Paramount Homes project in Asbury Park check out