Deja Vu Over Again Plagues Asbury Park Building Project

Fri May 09, 2008 - Northeast Edition

ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) Residents of this iconic New Jersey shore community had a reason to feel upbeat in 2006 when explosives leveled an unfinished condominium that had been slowly falling apart near the city’s boardwalk for a quarter of a century.

But now the construction of a new high-rise — named Esperanza after the Spanish word for hope — is instead causing some distress because there’s been no construction for months.

“What you heard in Asbury Park was people saying: ’Look, it’s happening again. That’s the building they blew up. There must be Indian spirits on that ground,’’’ homeowners’ association leader Sue Henderson told The New York Times in a tongue-and-cheek recounting of the situation.

Hoboken-based Metro Homes said in December that it was halting construction and sales on the 224-unit condominium complex, citing the nation’s mortgage crisis.

City officials initially threatened to go to court to get construction to resume, but their threats have softened recently as some in the town speculate that work might resume on a scaled back structure.

Dean Geibel, president of Metro Homes, declined to disclose company plans.

“It’s complicated, but we’re working on a couple different plans of action,’’ Geibel told The Times.

Meanwhile, Asbury Park officials are trying to stay positive about the situation, and are pointing to other redevelopment projects around the city.

“The Esperanza is not going to stop us. We’re just going to keep moving forward. And we’ve got a lot of other projects going on,’’ said Asbury Park Councilman John Loffredo.