Missing Millions in Monmouth Beach
Among my father’s missed investment opportunities — and he told me there were plenty — was the chance to buy more property in Monmouth Beach back before the land ballooned in value. Talk about missed opportunities!
During my research of borough history, I saw many 1950s property transactions where sizable lots were had for about $1,000. And in the 1960s and 70s, when dad had both opportunity and means, good lots for under $5,000 were plentiful. Even in the 1980s borough land was very reasonable. By the mid-1990s, I had became a homeowner in town for just $150,000.
Nowadays, even as good communities feel home price erosion, Monmouth Beach property values continue to soar. While premier lots can go quickly for $1 million+, even small lots get bid up over $500,000 (with the requisite tear down bill). Meanwhile, a new 10,000 square-foot house on Ocean Avenue is nearing completion and a stater home in Monmouth Beach today probably approaches $750,000.
In later years, retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my father explained to me that he could have easily qualified for any decent loan back in his early Monmouth Beach days. He was a respected physician with a steady and growing income and, more importantly, he had excellent credit. “I would have had little difficulty going to the bank, borrowing $20,000, buying several lots, and then hold onto them,” dad told me. The lost possibility still staggers me.
Perhaps his greatest missed chance came in the mid-1950s when could have bought a bar and some surrounding property for less than $40,000. This Monmouth Beach neighborhood bar was located just one block away from the large home my parents had purchased for their growing family in 1954.
“Buy land … they’re not making any more of it.”
It might seem strange that a 37-year-old medical doctor with a wife and four kids (and another one on the way) would buy a bar, but dad did have a plan. His uncle, who had been a very successful New York City liquor salesman, would manage the bar business and later pass it down to my oldest brother, Owen. In addition to the bar with kitchen, the deal included the liquor license and two smaller houses nearby.
Dad passed on the offering and it was all ultimately acquired by J. Emmett Boyle, who also owned a bar in Newark. The deal closed in April 1956 and Boyle’s Tavern was born. The bar, much a favorite town gathering spot, still thrives today.
Who knows what would have happened to my family and the business if dad had opened his checkbook over 60 years ago. Though I doubt we could have done “hospitality” any better then the Boyle family.
Note: According to an October 1947 Asbury Park Press report, the board of commissioners offered to sell 5 lots on Navesink Drive for $625.