By Marisa Procopio
The Long Branch beachfront has changed its look as often as Katy Perry on holiday. Gen-Xers remember it as the Pier and Kid’s World Amusement Park, a sweeping, animated stretch of fun that included a waterslide, pier, haunted house, and arcade attractions. Back in the glorious Victorian age, it was host to visiting dignitaries and artists come to swim in the Atlantic’s restorative waves, stroll the boards, and lounge in the magnificent hotels that lined the oceanfront.
Today the 16-acre stretch east of Broadway has regenerated once more as Pier Village, attracting visitors by the thousands since its opening in 2005. And with good reason: the community boasts 100,000 square feet of boutique shopping, along with dining, entertainment, a hotel, and 492 rental residences and 44 luxury condominiums in Key West-style, buttery yellow pastels. Le Club, the members-only, palm-tree-lined beach club (blink and you’ll think you’re in the French Riviera) occupies the beach below Avenue’s posh dining, as well as its rooftop, with sun deck and pool. A spacious boardwalk with beach access, newly replenished with sand, gilds this sea-sprayed lily.
Pier Village was conceived in 1999 by the City of Long Branch and brought into being by Ironstate Development Company. Ironstate owners Michael and David Barry designed a modern community with a old-time flavor, where residents could enjoy picturesque seaside living with small-town amenities and benefits. New York City is close by as well, a perk appreciated by commuters. The community was distinguished in 2007 by Travel & Leisure, who called it one of the “20 Great American Beaches.” It also received a 2009 New Jersey Governor’s Tourism Award.