Home Seaside Heights & Seaside Park Former Seaside Heights Nightclub Will be Subject to Condemnation

Former Seaside Heights Nightclub Will be Subject to Condemnation


The former Merge nightclub, Seaside Heights. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The former Merge nightclub, Seaside Heights. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The former Merge nightclub sits derelict and battered – an abandoned, crumbling shell of what was once a busy hub of flashing lights, loud music and flowing drinks. A For Sale sign hangs outside, but so far there have been no takers.

The borough of Seaside Heights has finally had enough with the structure, which it says is making it more difficult to redevelop the busy Boulevard business district with restaurants, retail stores, family-friendly miniature gold courses and more subdued, higher-end night spots. On Monday, the borough’s planning board formally declared the lot on which the former Merge club sits as an area in need of redevelopment. The borough council on Wednesday took the same step, finalizing a legal process that allows the town to force an owner to develop a blighted property, sell it to someone who will, or face condemnation. The order includes the parking lot next to the nightclub structure.

“The borough would have condemnation power to take that property for the purposes of redevelopment if that became necessary,” said Matt Jessup, an attorney with the high-powered land use law firm of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, which the borough hired to represent its redevelopment interests.


“We concluded that that property met two criteria of the local redevelopment housing law,” said Keenan Hughes, a planner with Hoboken based Phillips, Preiss & Grygiel, a consulting firm hired by the borough that has worked on similar projects in Morristown, Hightstown, Montclair and even New York’s Roosevelt Island. “I think the more interesting discussion becomes what comes next. There are a few potential options”

Hughes said the borough should publicly seek developers interested in the plot, potentially gathering interest for a mixed-use development which meets the goal of transforming Seaside Heights into a more traditional Shore resort town while increasing its year-round population.

“This evening is the first step,” Hughes said at a borough council meeting Wednesday.

The former Merge nightclub, Seaside Heights. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The former Merge nightclub, Seaside Heights. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The property is owned by John Saddy, who also owns the Bamboo and Karma nightclubs. At one time, the plan was to combine the three clubs under one cover charge and offer different experiences at each – a plan which never panned out. Officials have said Saddy, who did not attend nor send a representative to the planning board and council hearings, does not appear to be in the position to redevelop the plot on his own.

“His prior realtor had actually sent the borough a letter, offering the property for sale to the borough through a sale,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz. “He’s aware of what we’re doing. He got notice of every step of the process.”

The redevelopment declaration, as Hughes said, is the first step in what could be a lengthy, but beneficial, process as the borough focuses on redeveloping its prime business district.

“We’re in a position through this process to come in a find a developer with a vision,” said Vaz.

The Boulevard, under the administration of Mayor Anthony Vaz, has been a priority from nearly the day he took office.

“We always look at the boardwalk, but the Boulevard is your mainstay,” said Councilman Richard Tompkins. “It keeps things going all year round. A lot of the old timers remember when the Boulevard was like a main street, and I hope we can get back to it.”

  • Count_Iblis

    The days of fist pumping dance clubs are over

  • Mac

    Actually, this seems kind of like a responsible action at face value. Truly, I’m pleasantly in shock for a change. Thank you for the treat.

  • Not Sandy’s Friend

    Finally, reason has come to the administrators of SSH. Make the town a place that is inviting to families, rather than low-life fist-pumping trash who disrupt the town and in turn, scare decent vacationers and families away. It’ s time to make it or break it.

  • Keith Carnevale

    What about that eye saw of steel beams that has been sitting for years why no mention of that?

  • Barry Dugac

    Take down the steel frame building and Merge Club Building. By creating year round businesses is the way to go for Main Street Seaside Heights. The Boulevard is in need of a big overhaul.

  • ET

    I wanted to throw in my 2 cents on this topic(Main Business District). I have owned a summer house in Seaside for 18 years now – newly rebuilt on the north end of town after Sandy. I am still holding out hope that the main Business district(Boulevard) will be developed into a nice downtown area(My wife and I are not Boardwalk people).
    There are a few nice places to go, but the shadow of that steel structure and other decaying buildings portray urban blight at it’s worst – they have to go – and soon.
    We stopped by Asbury Park’s newly developed upscale business’s and areas on the way to Seaside last week. I would hope that Seaside’s administrators could use that as a model of what new restaurants, breweries etc. can do for a town previously wounded by poor development. The redevelopment of the boulevard will only attract decent vacationers and residents alike. Come on – let’s get going!