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Can there be any kind of future for a historic amusement park demolished at the blade of bulldozer development?
|When will Tillie shine again as a beacon over Cookman Avenue?
Anyone who saw the Palace reduced to piles of rubble can be forgiven for thinking no, that's the end of the line.
At least some original Palace elements, however, are scheduled to make a reappearance at the southern end of Kingsley Street.
The State of New Jersey has directed Asbury Partners, the waterfront developer, to preserve parts of the Palace for reuse in the new building that will someday rise on the Palace lots.
Under the order, Asbury Partners is responsible for preserving and reusing:
All surviving metal channel lettering:
A, C, E, A, M, U, S, E, M, E, N, and S from the Lake facade.
P, A, A, and E from the Cookman facade.
A, L, A, C, A, M, U, S, E, and N from the Kingsley facade.
Signs from the exterior of the Palace:
Shooting Gallery/Fun For All sign on the carousel house
National Register of Historic Places sign from the Fun House.
Two, from the overhead doors on the Cookman side.
The Tillie mural from the Cookman side.
Two Bumper Car murals on the Lake Avenue side.
The State's directive is specific, unambiguous, and enforceable. It says Asbury Partners "will" relocate and preserve parts of the Palace and "will" incorporate those parts into the new building. Asbury Partners was further directed to use "images of the existing Palace Amusements Building" in the design and flavor of the new structure. To make sure no one tries to slide off the hook, the State put the developer on notice that failure to comply will jeopardize the waterfront revitalization project.
Of a more speculative nature is the possibility that the new building might look a great deal like the old Palace.
In 2003, leading up to Palace demolition, Asbury Partners Chief Operations Officer Larry Fishman unveiled an architectural drawing of what he called a "concept" for the Palace replacement. The building was painted in the same color as the Palace, had two Tillie images just like the Palace, and had other Palace-like features. The building, he said, would be smaller than the Palace, and would not be used for amusements - which no longer have a place on the Asbury waterfront - but instead for shops, meeting rooms and a restaurant serving a nearby hotel.
During the same period, Fishman's architect, Nory Hazavah of SOSH Architects, New York and Atlantic City, said repeatedly that Asbury Partners would involve Palace preservationists from Save Tillie in the planning of the new building.
How these concepts and promises play out, only time will tell. The outcome, however, will most likely determine if drivers heading south on Kingsley Street will experience at least the spirit of the late, great Palace Amusements.
In 2012, officials of Madison Asbury Retail, LLC., a division of the Madison Marquette development company (a successor to Asbury Partners), failed an inspection of the protected Palace items, eventually admitting that two -- an overhead door from the Cookman side, and the Shooting Gallery/Fun For All sign from the carousel house, were missing and presumed lost. By certified letter Sept. 25, 2012, Michele Kropilak, State of New Jersey Regional Supervisor for Coastal & Land Use Compliance & Enforcement, warned developers that "items on the Palace Amusements Artifacts list are to be preserved and incorporated into the redevelopment project as required by the Permit. Failure to protect and preserve any of these artifacts will be considered a violation of the permit and penalties will be assessed accordingly." The warning, accompanied by strict new rules for protecting the artifacts, was applied prospectively, for no penalties were assessed for the loss of these two items. All other protected items were accounted for.