Train tracks bifurcate the city, with the East Side reaping the benefits of the coastal tourism and a newfound resurgence after decades of economic decline, while the West Side has remained largely distressed. As the East Side of the city has started to attract new investment for luxury rentals, condominiums, hotels, and retail, the West Side has begun to see some spillover, with land values escalating and speculative real estate investments that many believe may threaten West Side resident’s ability to remain in their homes. The Asbury Park BHEC team aims to transform the West Side neighborhood by working to actualize the vision set out in 2018 in the One City. Asbury Park. Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan.
The ten-year vision for that plan aims to “transform equitably and sustainably, without displacement and without gentrification into one seamless city, physically and culturally connected across neighborhoods and with no disparity in access to services, employment opportunities, and quality of life.” Addressing social determinants of health is a core component of the work needed to realize this vision, and the team intends to contribute to this vision via BHEC by advancing a built environment pipeline and influencing policy changes. While the West Side has struggled over the years, there has been some recent investment. Redevelopment efforts include replacing numerous vacant properties along Springwood Avenue, a once vibrant commercial corridor that sustained significant damage during race riots in the 1970s; development of Springwood Park, the first city park on the West Side in the city’s history; redevelopment of Boston Way, a public housing property; and construction of 64 private affordable housing units on Springwood Avenue. Additional assets within the neighborhood include the New Jersey Transit Commuter Rail Station with service to Newark and New York City (Penn Station), the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County, the city municipal government complex, and the Springwood Avenue and Washington Avenue redevelopment areas. This includes the recent addition of the Springwood Avenue Center, which houses the Senior Center, Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce and Business Development Center and the KULA Café (presently housing Macrobites) and its neighboring Urban Farms. Additionally, the neighborhood has vibrant faith-based organizations that are important to the community.