President Obama’s visit to the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., might mark the beginning of the Jersey Shore’s first post-Sandy summer, but it might also mark the end of the Hall’s long and historic life.
The building, which flanks the boardwalk and the beach, has hosted everything from roller derby competitions to Friars Club meetings to concerts by rock heavyweights like Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen. The structure, which links the Paramount Theatre and the Grand Arcade, was built more than 80 years ago and helped attract entrepreneurs, entertainers and tourists to the tiny seaside town.
Safety code violations forced the venue to shut its doors for 15 years, starting in 1982. Since reopening in the 1990s, the building and the city have been the focus of multiple attempts to revitalize the area. A massive restoration process in 2007 focused on the Paramount and the Convention Hall and included the opening of several new businesses and the revitalization of the waterfront.
Nevertheless, the building is once again at risk of being closed due to a dispute over fire safety regulations. According to the Asbury Park website, President Obama’s remarks are the only event listed at the Convention Hall this summer.