Seaside Heights officials, months after beginning the process of declaring the former Merge nightclub an area in need of redevelopment – a precursor to potential condemnation – say its owner has pledged to make improvements to the appearance of the building.
The former nightclub, which closed after the 2012 summer season, has sat empty ever since. The gutted building has greatly deteriorated, prompting frequent complaints from residents. Its owner, John Saddy, also operates the Karma and Bamboo nightclubs. Another local businessman, Robert Bennett, has a financial interest in the property, according to public records.
Bennett recently told officials that the property, located at 308 Boulevard, would be cleaned up and the building repaired, Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said.
“We had a meeting with Mr. Bennett and his attorney to see if we could do anything with the building – resolve all the safety issues and get the aesthetic appeal looking better,” said Vaz.
Bennett agreed, and said work would begin to repair it. He believes the building is still viable enough to be rehabilitated, Vaz said. There are no pending plans, however, to reopen the nightclub or redevelop the plot.
“If nothing else, the safety issues will be resolved, and the appearance from the outside will be that of a nice building,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to fix it and sell it,” the mayor said.
Bennett also owns the former Bank of America building across the street from the Merge site, along with a new miniature golf course he built beside it last year. Bennett has been a willing partner in Seaside Heights’ efforts to remake its image into a family-friendly resort from the type of party atmosphere that was nationally-televised for years.
“He’s willing to work with us, and he sees it’s in his own interest because of the project he has across the street,” Christopher Vaz said.