With funding now in place, construction has begun on the building that will house Seaside Heights’ historic Dentzel-Looff Carousel.
The building will be a single-story structure built on one of two lots the borough owns between Carteret and Sampson avenues on the boardwalk. It will house the carousel, which will be open for use as an attraction. Last month, the borough council sought bids to hire specialists in historic construction to oversee the assembly of the carousel, which has been restored. Part of it is also in storage until it can be put back together.
“They have the pilings in and they’ve started putting the boards down,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz. “We’re hoping the frame is built by the end of December, then we have to do the insulation and start on the inside.”
Over the summer, Seaside Heights awarded $2,597,000 contract to construction firm Epic Management, to build the carousel’s home, which will also feature a boardwalk museum run by the newly-formed Seaside Heights Historical Society. Epic has previous built the $75 million RWJBarnabas Athletic Health Performance Center in Piscataway and the School of Communication building at Montclair State University.
The scope of the project has been debated for several years, and at one point officials considered a multi-story building that could be used as a restaurant or banquet hall. That plan was not adopted; the current building will function as a home to the carousel, but another plot of land may be developed in future years.
“There’s a space south of where this is where we may want to build something we could rent out, which would generate income to pay down the debt,” said Vaz.
The state government funded $750,000 of the project in a matching grant. The rest of the funding was obtained through a bond measure.
Construction is moving fast, the mayor said, and officials are trying to coordinate the work with the contract to reassemble the carousel itself. The borough will hold a celebration for the grand opening, which has not yet been assigned a date. It is unlikely to be open for Memorial Day weekend.
“It would be nice, but I don’t personally think so,” said Vaz. “Still, I don’t want to say it won’t be ready, because it could happen.”