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Back in 1988, if you pictured the Long Branch of today most people would have told you that you had some real imagination. What was then a broken down and boarded-up National Guard Armory is now the Promenade Beach Club. The run-down, rat infested buildings that lined the boardwalk – victims of the Pier fire of 1987 – have been spectacularly transformed into McLoone’s Pier House, Avenue, and Sirena. And who dreamed then that the incredible Long Branch rebirth would include the shops, restaurants and apartments that make up the amazing Pier Village?

I submit that there’s still time to invest in this vision. What’s planned for down the road will be grand, and below are 5 reasons why I believe that Long Branch is a great investment…possibly the best investment on the Jersey Shore:

  1. The Redevelopment of Broadway.

    The redevelopment plan for Broadway Arts Center is seeing some renewed life. The master plan for the redevelopment of BAC called for taking the deteriorating downtown district and redeveloping it into a mixed-use arts and theater district. The project has been stalled for years due to a lack of funding caused by the downward economy and litigation. However, Summit-based Diversity Realty Advisors has recently assumed the mortgages from BAC, who have been in foreclosure proceedings since 2010, and their ultimate plan is to become the developer. Once the foreclosure is done, the City can sign a newagreement with a new developer.

    Your Long Branch investment is waiting!

  2. The Redevelopment of the Pier.

    In 1987, a massive fire descended on the Pier that housed the famous Haunted Mansion in Long Branch. Because of the heavy west wind, the fire spread quickly and destroyed the pier and most of the surrounding businesses. The plan is to rebuild the pier with high-end shops and restaurants and run a ferry from the pier to NYC. While the final development of the pier – which is expected to cost about $100 million – has a way to go, the design has been selected and this is currently the only plan in NJ for pier redevelopment that mixes transportation with entertainment.

  3. Development of a Transit Village.

    Long Branch is in the process of applying to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for a “transit village” designation. If the designation is approved, the area around the train station will be opened up to more types of high density commercial and residential development. The proposed mix of residential and retail units a quarter mile to the east and west of the train station will create a convenient environment forpeople to get to and from work or to run errands using public transportation.

  4. Hotel Expansion.

    United Capital Corp, the new owners of the Ocean Place Resort, recently won the right to adhere to the terms of the original master plan. The 1985 redevelopment plan called for a 2nd tower with 400 rooms and retail space. Depending on the market conditions, the plan is to break ground on the 2nd tower in the fall of 2015. They have just recently completed Phase I of their renovation plan, which included extensive renovations to the hotel’s exterior, new bathrooms, and new furnishings. Phase II is expected to begin in the Fall, and will include renovations to the lobby and dining rooms, the addition ofa new outside pool (for hotel guests only), and a larger Tiki Bar which will be open to the general public.

  5. Pier Village Phase 3.

    Construction has begun on Phase 3 of Pier Village and while no completion date has been set yet, the construction will be completed in phases. Phase 3 will include more rentals, retail, condominiums, parking, a hotel, and even a carousel.

In my opinion, investing in property in Long Branch is a no-brainer. Imagine the amazing opportunities that all of this future development will bring. The perfect Long Branch residence awaits you…all you have to do is call!

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I was in Long Branch this morning looking for breakfast. My first thought was a trip to Dunkin Donuts, or maybe a quick bagel at one of the many local bagel shops. Both are great standby options – but I needed something different. So, I decided to go to one of my favorite bakeries in NJ – Caputo’s, located in Ursula Plaza on Ocean Blvd in Long Branch.

Caputo’s has been a Long Branch fixture for over 30 years. This business started in Brooklyn in 1923, and after 27 successful years in NY they set up shop on S. Broadway in Long Branch. They stayed in that location until the redevelopment boom hit the shore area, and they were forced to build a new location on Ocean Blvd in Ursula Plaza. This has been home for Caputos since 1988.

Caputo's Italian Bakery on the Jersey Shore [photo from caputos.com]

Caputo’s is a fifth generation family owned business that has made its name by making absolutely exceptional baked goods. They offer a wide range of Italian pastries, cannolis, breads, custom cakes, cupcakes (is there anything better than bakery cupcakes with butter cream icing?), and Italian cookies. Caputo’s also makes decadent custom wedding cakes! Like many great Italian bakeries, they also serve a great cup of coffee – in fact, here you will find some of the best coffee on the Jersey shore. Caputo’s is a perfect spot to stop for a quick coffee and pastry in the morning – or in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, or even in the early evening (if you don’t mind spoiling your dinner)! My point is that this bakery on the Jersey Shore is a great option any time of day.

When I stopped in this morning, the people in front of me in line ordered boxes of pastries and Italian bread – when it was my turn, I ordered an apple turnover and a decaf coffee. While I was on line I had a chance to look over all the baked goods that they offer. The selection was enormous – and this place smelled divine! They are definitely a full service bakery, and everything looked delicious.

Make sure you visit Caputo’s next time you are in Long Branch, and you will find out why they have been in business for almost 100 years. Once you taste their pastries, bread, or cakes you will definitely be back!

One of the oldest and most famous theaters in NJ is the Count Basie Theatre, located at 99 Monmouth Street in Red Bank. Constructed under the name The State Theater, when it opened on November 11, 1926 it was called the Red Bank Theater. On opening night, the audience was entertained with a live vaudeville show and a movie. Over 4000 people attended, including all of the local politicians. This was just the beginning…

image from NJ Monthly

Over the next 6 decades, this was the place to be in Red Bank – the magnificent theater hosted many big name acts including Tony Bennett, the NJ Symphony Orchestra, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Bon Jovi. While other theaters in the area were closing, the Count Basie was thriving. It is known for its beautiful interior, thousands of brilliant lights and fantastic seating plan – somehow, every seat has a great view. And in the center of the house, hanging from the domed ceiling, is a spectacular crystal chandelier.

In 1974 Bruce Springsteen played on the Count Basie stage for the first time. This was the start of a 30 year association with the theater – he often plays this intimate venue as a warm up to his world tours. In a 1975 Newsweek article, Springsteen credited the Count Basie Theater with his rapidly growing success.

The biggest night of the year at the theater has always been New Year’s Eve, but in 1977 it reached a totally different level, putting the theater on the map nationally. That year, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes highlighted a star studded evening that also featured Little Steven, Gary US Bonds, Brian Setzer, Darlene Love, Kevin Kavanaugh, Paul Schaeffer, Steve Jordan, and Gary Tallent. This show aired live on national radio and received many great reviews. People all over the country were talking about that concert.

In 1979, William ‘Count’ Basie and his 17-piece band played the then-named Monmouth Arts Center for the first time. After performing for a nearly full house, he proclaimed “Well, we’re back home again.” It only seemed fitting that when the Red Bank native passed away in 1984, the theatre was renamed in his honor – the Count Basie Theatre.

In 1998 Jon Bon Jovi headlined the “Come Together” concert, a benefit for a fallen Long Branch police officer’s family. The show had many big name stars including Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Little Steven, local band LaBamba, and many more. The concert was a huge success, raising over $100,000 for the family.

The theater has a lot of history, but the great shows have not ended. Coming up later this month are The Music Man, the Happy Together tour, and Chazz Palmiterri performing A Bronx Tale. On July 31st, they are showing the classic movie Raiders of the Lost Ark – for free!

If you have never been to the Count Basie Theatre, make it a point to get there. Come see why Tony Bennett calls it “my favorite place!”

Sandcasle in Oceanfest

Oceanfest in Long Branch, NJ is a truly can’t miss event for one of the most beloved holiday’s of the year. The annual event is brought to life by the Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and merchants in Long Branch. This year’s celebration didn’t disappoint as the promenade was surrounded by great food, entertainment, people and fireworks.

Rows of tents lined the oceanfront to greet you as you reached the promenade. Crafts, art and antiques were on display to view and purchase. The smells from the wide variety of food filled the air appealing to one and all, myself included. Oceanfest was full of the delicious staples you would expect from pizza, Italian Zeppole, hot dogs and sausage & peppers to cotton candy and ice cream. Wild Bill’s Olde Fashion Soda Pop Co. was on hand filling silver commemorative Oceanfest 2013 mugs with the best tasting root beer you could ever have.

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Dancers, clowns, musicians and other carnival acts entertained visitors throughout the day grabbing ongoing laughs and rounds of applause. Sand sculptures so realistic filled this year’s competition entries. These amazing artists create sand structures so incredible it is almost impossible to believe they were created out of sand.

Oceanfest culminated with a breathless firework display that lit up the night sky. The amazing finale was the perfect closing note to the event.

As you cruise the boardwalk soaking in the beautiful coastline and feeling the ocean breeze, there is no better way to celebrate the birth of our great nation than at this home-grown celebration supported by the wonderful Long Branch residents. If you didn’t attend this year, be sure to mark your calendar for 2014!!

Support Long Branch and continue to Restore the Jersey Shore!

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