After demolition of the former home of Joey Harrison’s Surf Club was completed last summer, all that remained standing in the area of the former night spot was an adjacent residential portion, which continues to lie in tatters, occasionally taking in water during high tide.
Numerous plans have been floated for the site, ranging from rebuilding the club, to condominiums, to preserving the land and turning it into a public beach.
Toms River Township Administrator Paul Shives told Shorebeat this week that no plans for the site have been formally submitted to the township for consideration, though the property’s owner has filed paperwork to request a determination on the exact footprint of the building for the purposes of designing a rebuilding plan. That paperwork has been filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, a state land use law that requires extra building reviews in Shore communities.
Shorebeat attempted to contact members of the Barcelona family, the owners of the site, but none responded to requests to comment.
“The initial rebuilding plans were for condos … but, as noted, no formal applications have been filed,” Shives said in an e-mail.
Paul Jeffrey, president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, has favored the possibility of turning the site into a public beach.
“I asked Dolores Barcelona about being bought out by Blue Acres and she was not opposed to the idea,” he said.
In order for the state to consider such a request, the property owners would have to apply, and the state would have to approve the purchase. So far, no property buyouts have occurred in Ocean County since Sandy, primarily because the state has favored preserving large swaths of land rather than single lots interspersed within residential areas, officials have said.
Though it was ultimately destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, the Surf Club nearly met its demise seven years prior to the storm, when Toms River approved 28 townhomes for the site. The deal fell through, however, according to press reports the time. Toms River, in the early 2000s, declined an offer from the Barcelona family to enter into negotiations to purchase the property.
According to Ocean County property records, there has been no movement on the property since July 2015, when the township discharged an order of demolition after the nightclub portion had been cleared.