The bane of the Boulevard – a multi-story edifice once slated to be an upscale complex of pools, a nightclub and bars – continues to stand, rusting and standing in the way of more promising redevelopment efforts in the borough. Seaside Heights officials say they are playing the waiting game with the state on how to proceed with the property, located between Webster and Hamilton avenues.
The future of the site was discussed during an executive session meeting before the public borough council meeting Wednesday.
Mayor Anthony Vaz said borough officials are waiting to hear from the office of Gov. Chris Christie on the status of a statewide permitting extension that was issued in 2008 in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. After the recession began, the state opted to extend the valid dates of building permits statewide in order to encourage real estate development. In Seaside Heights, however, the policy has had the exact opposite effect – allowing the project to linger, barely-built, for eight years with no recourse to take action on the site on the part of the borough.
The policy has been extended multiple times since 2008, but most recently was expected to sunset Dec. 31, 2015. Borough officials are now investigating whether the permit has, indeed, expired under state law.
“We’re waiting to hear from the governor’s office, because he had given the extension and as far as we know, it’s still holding,” said Vaz. “Once that extension is over, we have to go after the owner and say, ‘enough is enough.’”
Redevelopment on the Boulevard is a central focus of the effort by officials and residents to revive the community in the wake of Sandy and the deterioration of the town’s primary business district outside of the boardwalk. Seaside Heights officials are receiving interest from developers who want to build on the Boulevard, but some have voiced concerns over the presence of the building, Vaz said.
The structure is owned by Vincent Craparotta, who also owns Hemingway’s Cafe. It is the site of former legendary Seaside Heights nightspots Club XS and the Yakety Yak Cafe.
“Until we hear from the governor’s office that the leniency is taken away, we have to live with it,” said Vaz. “Once it is, the borough will act. We have to. It’s an eyesore and everyone talks about it.”