About a week after demolition crews first arrived in Seaside Heights, the hulking edifice of steel that had plagued the Boulevard business district for more than a decade is finally gone.
By the end of the day Thursday, all of the steel was down at the site. Just a few piles of wreckage remain and a fence surrounds the property, which sites between Hamilton and Webster avenues. A new mixed-use retail and residential building is slated to replace the steel structure, which marked the outline of what was to be a nightclub and entertainment complex. That project ultimately failed to find financing, languishing for more than 12 years under state permit extension programs passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Ultimately, Seaside Heights condemned the property and sought public bids for its redevelopment. Now that the steel has been removed, officials hope to move through the formal redevelopment approval process quickly to get construction underway on the new project.
“Everything has to go through the whole process as part of the redevelopment law,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz. “There are applications, permits and it has to go through a process.”
Part of that process will include a formal hearing before the borough’s planning board, which will handle building and zoning issues, variances or other matters. If the planning board approves the project, formal land transfers would take place between the borough council and the group of developers seeking to build the mixed-use project.
“I know they’re working on it, but they may not have settled on a date,” said Vaz. “I know they’re very, very eager to get started. And council has to settle on an agreement with them.”
Vaz said a schematic plan of the proposed new development has been submitted to the borough and a hearing will likely be scheduled for the fall. Officials are hopeful construction can begin by the end of the year.