In a last-ditch effort to save his abandoned nightclub complex property from being condemned and sold to a redeveloper, the owner of Seaside Heights’ notorious “steel structure” on the Boulevard has put forth an ambitious plan to develop an eight-story mixed-use residential and commercial complex.
It has been 11 years since work stopped on the building, located between Hamilton and Webster avenues, with the rusting steel frame of the hulking structure partially remaining. Both officials and residents have derided it as an eyesore, with some saying its presence has even stopped other developers from investing in the Boulevard business district. Its owner, Vincent Craparotta, has regularly told officials he wants to build something on the site – at one point even resurrecting the nightclub idea – but no action has ever been taken except an effort to remove some of the steel over the past year.
“In the end, the planning board, along with the mayor and council, are going to look at a project and say, ‘this is what we like in that particular area,'” said Mayor Anthony Vaz, following a borough council meeting Wedneasday.
The timeline to either build something on the property or acquiesce to the borough’s condemnation threat is, effectively, here. Today, the borough will formally seek proposals from developers to build on the site. Craparotta, as the current owner, is eligible to submit a design like anyone else, but Vaz said he is unlikely to take that track.
“Vinnie is entitled to be part of it, but he’s told us he doesn’t want to,” said Vaz.
Instead, Craparotta told council members during a work session meeting Wednesday that he plans on proposing the new building directly to the borough’s planning board instead of responding to the request for proposals.
Plans for his newly-proposed structure, which were obtained by Shorebeat, show an eight story building with 36 covered street-level parking spaces, a 160 seat restaurant and bar on the first floor, a fitness spa and salon, plus gardens and executive offices. The plans also include a pool deck on the third floor and terraces for residents. An immense open area will flank the southern portion of the site.
Whether the plan comes to fruition will be a function of legalities, financing, competing proposals and – perhaps most importantly – Craparotta’s willingness to actually break ground and build the complex.
“It’s going to happen, either way, and the time is here,” said Vaz, explaining that if a competing proposal wins support from officials, an appraisal would be completed, the property would be taken from Craparotta and he would be compensated, then the parcel would be re-sold to a new developer.
“We’re doing what the people want,” said Vaz. “The public is telling us that they want that structure either completed or down.”