Seaside Heights officials this week authorized another round of demolition funding to be utilized to take down two residential homes that have fallen into disrepair.
Last year, the state provided the borough with a $1 million grant to fund the demolition of private properties – residential or commercial – in town that qualify as blighted or are otherwise in disrepair or a safety risk. This week, the borough council authorized funds to take down two residential homes located to the east of the former Merge nightclub, which is a designated redevelopment area.
The two homes, located at 54 and 60 Franklin Avenue, will be demolished once a contract is awarded to a demolition contractor. The cost will be covered by the state grant.
“The property west of them is vacant because that was the old Merge building,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz. “It’s just outside the area in need of redevelopment, but they are still eligible for the demolition funds.”
The buildings have different owners, and are both located within a residential zone.
“Those buildings are old and dilapidated, there’s plywood all over, so it most definitely qualifies” for state demolition funding, Vaz said.
While the empty lot that formerly housed the Merge nightclub building is located within a designated redevelopment area – meaning it must comply with a larger redevelopment plan – the properties on which the two homes are located will be subject to normal zoning regulations.
The council also voted this week to request the borough’s planning board to conduct a study to determine whether the property at 229 Franklin Avenue, a “half-house, half-motel” arrangement with two buildings, qualifies as a redevelopment area. The borough already owns the property, with the closing having occurred last week after negotiations with tenants were completed. The two buildings will be demolished and the property will be sold to a private party.
Likewise to the nightclub property described above, formally designating a property as being in need of redevelopment enables the borough council to set specific requirements for a particular site, select a developer among qualified bidders, and ensure the owner has sufficient financing so the work is not left uncompleted. Before the declaration can be made, the planning board must hire an engineer to conduct a study to determine whether the property fits within the parameters of the state’s redevelopment statute. If the board determines the property qualifies, it is sent to the borough council for a second vote. A redevelopment plan is then drawn up and bids are sought to build to the specifications laid out by the town.
“We want it to be a redevelopment area, so when we go to sell the property we can say, ‘this is what we want the property to be, and here’s the redevelopment plan,'” Vaz said.
The property, which has been the subject of a high number of calls to police and emergency services, as well as an odd, densely-packed use on a residential parcel, was purchased for $1,150,000.