Seaside Heights is seeking to turn a property purchased last year by the borough into a formal redevelopment area, placing the municipal council in charge of approving what will be built on the lot, and ensuring the new owner is financially solvent.
The property at 229 Franklin Avenue is one of the most oddly-developed parcels of land in town, though most visitors would be forgiven if they never noticed it. Hidden behind a small multi-family home with two units is a three-story motel which contains six units that were ultimately turned into long-term rentals. The site, officials have said, was often troubled with frequent calls to law enforcement.
Between June 2021 and Feb. 2022, the property required the Seaside Heights code enforcement office to send 16 letters to the property’s former owner regarding a wide range of issues with the property. According to a report authored by a consulting firm – required as part of the redevelopment process – the issues included an overgrowth of weeds, wires on the ground presenting a tripping hazard, ripped screens, excessively chipping paint, and an oven that had been damaged in a fire and never repaired. The property owner was also cited for issues with mold, non-functioning smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, as well as a non-functioning hot water heater.
“Within the past two years the units at the subject property have been without approved certificates of occupancy while renters were present,” the report stated. “The buildings have also lacked basic fire safety equipment, which is especially significant given the ongoing reports of fire damage to furniture, appliances, and walls. Some units have also lacked access to essential services, including a functioning stove, and hot water furnace. These conditions and other maintenance issues have persisted at the property, despite action taken by the borough’s code enforcement office.”
Tenants were still living in the building when it was acquired by the borough from its previous owner, Alexander Rozental, of Staten Island, N.Y. The tenants, who occupied three of the units, voluntarily relocated after the sale.
The borough acquired the property in October 2022 for $1.1 million, which was funded through a one-time state grant to assist the town in its redevelopment efforts. The report, as well as an upcoming hearing before the planning board, represent the steps needed to formally declare the property as an “area in need of redevelopment” pursuant to the state’s municipal land use law. After the 50-by-100 foot parcel receives the designation, the borough can seek bids from potential redevelopers who will be required to match their proposals to a plan outlined by the town.
The property is located within the low-density residential zone, which permits single or two-family residential homes on parcels of land that must be 1,800 square feet in area. At 5,227 square feet, the property well exceeds the minimum and, theoretically, could be subdivided to accommodate multiple homes.
The planning board will conduct its hearing on the property at a meeting scheduled for Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m. in the borough courtroom. The board will make a recommendation to the council on the declaration, and if approved, the council is expected to take a final vote and ultimately adopt a redevelopment plan outlining the specifications of redevelopment. A public bidding process will follow, and potential redevelopers will be required to confirm their ability to finance the construction of what they propose.