Top of the East-

Hundreds went into the Applebrook office to see what the new building would look like; there was a scale model showing 160-units, another of a two-bedroom unit complete with two baths, a dressing room, kitchen, laundry and utility room. Even built-in appliances. All of that, Lefferts said, in addition to the “unbelievable panoramic view from every apartment” together with luxury amenities like oversized rooms, uniformed doormen, TV security systems, and at the very top, close as the nearest elevator, “the Top of the East Club,” the magnificent party room open to all.


It was all gold and glamor as daily and weekly newspapers reported about the last day of October 50 years ago when ground was broken for the highly touted and much publicized Top of the East, the first of its kind 14-story luxury condominium complex set to be constructed on the top of the hill adjacent to Atlantic Highlands. It was also announced that the looming tower, forever changing the skyline of Highlands, might well be accompanied by a sister complex right on the adjoining property, the last property in Atlantic Highlands. Those plans had not yet been completed or heard by that borough’s boards and the future would tell the stories of how Atlantic Highlands said thanks but no thanks to the residential tower. That tract is now the Monmouth County owned Mount Mitchill County Park.

But Oct. 31, 1972 was a big day for Highlands, as King Westerlind, the quieter and lesser known of the duo building the complex, and his partner, the well known and highly visible and verbal James R Snyder, joined with Highlands Mayor James T. White, financiers General Electric Credit Corporations, and movie actress and blond beauty Monique Van Vooren to wield golden shovels turning over the first clumps of dirt that would make room for the foundation of Top of the East.


It was Jacob R.V.M. Lefferts the third, president of the Applebrook Real Estate Agency, who announced the groundbreaking; Applebrook was the exclusive sales agent for the plush condominiums which would be sold at the time for a starting price of $38, 500.

No announcement was necessary; there were hundreds who went to the top of the hill next to Shadow Lawn Trailer Park, and crowded the road in front of the old Cabin in the Sky building which once spread across the very land in two towns that was now going to be at least one luxurious condominium complex; the building was now the official real estate officer for Mr. Leffert’s Agency. He told the crowd that “Snyder and Westerlind were building the complex and establishing a standard of luxury building necessary “to meet the desires and needs of the luxury-seeker their researchers have found to be most important.”

Hundreds went into the Applebrook office to see what the new building would look like; there was a scale model showing 160-units, another of a two-bedroom unit complete with two baths, a dressing room, kitchen, laundry and utility room. Even built-in appliances. All of that, Lefferts said, in addition to the “unbelievable panoramic view from every apartment” together with luxury amenities like oversized rooms, uniformed doormen, tv security systems, and at the very top, close as the nearest elevator, “the Top of the East Club,” the magnificent party room open to all.



The condominium concept, while not new in the area, was different in the high rise complex. Each apartment was owned by the individual, complete with deed to that specific property with tax and equity advantages like any private land owner. But those benefits came without the hassle of maintaining building and grounds, things that would be taken care of by professionals for a monthly fee from each of the property owners. The building is fireproof, of course, and the lobby is linked to each unit by an intercom system. A 24-hour closed circuit TV and a doorman would provide all the security for the new owners.

With Direct Line, later known as Sea Streak, a commuter service of the future., the owners. Builders and realtors promoted the proximity of the luxury condominiums to the Garden State Parkway which offered an hour trip to Manhattan. Of the option of the Railroad, only seven miles away. Shopping centers were close, and history, performing arts, and even the Garden State Arts Center were all within easy reach by car. To say nothing of the magnificent beaches, as well as the complex’s own recreational facilities, which include an Olympic size swimming pool, sundeck, cabanas and tennis courts. For an added fee, owners could also take advantage of a health club on site, complete with saunas, baths, massage specialists and exercise rooms.

And to think that for months before, newspapers and experts said the entire hill contained a fault and warned that indeed the hill was falling, the building would make it occur sooner, and at some time there would be no hill to house a Top of the East.

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