Seaside Heights, continuing its ambitious plan to redevelop the borough into a modern coastal resort, has received $1 million in state funding to demolish blighted or otherwise problem-plagued properties in town.
“It’s going to be beneficial to our redevelopment projects and the future of Seaside Heights,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz, who has spent much of the summer tackling quality-of-life issues alongside a new task force put together by officials.
Last month, the borough announced that it was moving to shut down three motels and six rental properties that, combined, had generated hundreds of calls to police, dozens of arrests and even a homicide. The borough’s legal team is pursuing the shutdown by way of mercantile license revocation, but ultimately, officials would like to see problem properties replaced. That’s where the state funding may come in handy.
“We have to discuss how we’re going to spend this money,” said Vaz. “We might want to look at some of the motels that seem to be dilapidated, and say to the owner, ‘We’ll knock it down, you can sell the property,’ and that has value.”
“Now, it’s saving a prospective buyer from having to cover the cost of doing that, and may encourage the current owner to sell,” he continued.
The $1 million in demolition funding can be used anywhere in town, from the Boulevard business district to residential areas. Officials will primarily have to address whether they want to use the funding toward major projects or smaller projects – for example, a large motel property versus several residential homes that have fallen into disrepair and need to be razed. Vaz said the borough is also investigating whether additional motels in town should have their mercantile licenses revoked due to quality-of-life complaints and the overuse of public services such as police. Demolition could be of mutual benefit to the town, which would save the cost of a lengthy condemnation process, and an owner, who may not be willing to invest in a pre-sale demolition.
“We can go to a motel, or a house that is blighted, and we can ask the owners if they’re interested in selling it,” Vaz said.