A saga spanning well over a decade, through financial crises, hurricanes, litigation that was seemingly endless and a fight to tear down a rotting eyesore that plagued redevelopment efforts on the Boulevard in Seaside Heights for years is – fingers crossed – over.
The Seaside Heights planning board on Monday night unanimously approved developer Dan Matarese, through his company SSH Boulevard Urban Renewal, to construct a 10-story, ultra-modern building that will represent a mix of 77 condominium units, a fifth-floor restaurant and lounge measuring 8,500 square feet, and 6,460 square feet of retail on the first floor, fronting the bustling Boulevard.
Avelino Martinez, the architect who designed the building, said the ground floor would include retail shops as well as a lobby with two courses of entry from the Boulevard. Behind the retail stores, and sloping up the second and third levels, will be residential parking. Parking access would be from the southerly side on Hamilton Avenue, though there would be no public parking available. The garage will include 153 spaces for residents, including a combination of 23 live and “make-ready” electric vehicle charging stations.
The building will include two traditional elevators and one freight elevator, which will be used for the restaurant as well as lifting large pieces of furniture in and out for residents.
Details on the restaurant were few, but it is expected to be a higher-end establishment.
“There is no tenant at this time, so the configuration of the space would be contingent on the needs of that tenants,” said Martizen, nothing that there will be an outdoor “a fresco” dining section melded into a balcony.
Of the 77 residential units, three will be 3BR units while the rest will be divided between 2BR units and 2BR units with dens for extra space. They will range from 1,500 square feet to 1,900 square feet.
“The fifth through the tenth story are, in many ways, identical aside from the interior treatments,” Martinez told board members.
The building will feature a total of 11,827 square feet of amenities, including a multipurpose room, and indoor lounge and fitness center, a rooftop pool and large rooftop deck on the easterly side.
The only formal objection – if it was, indeed, an objection – came in the form of a line of questions brought by local attorney Edward Liston, representing Vincent Craparotta, the one-time owner of what was known as the “steel structure” that sat for more than a decade deteriorating at the site before having to be condemned by the borough. He questioned representatives of the new owner as to whether certain piling to support the steel structure remained present at the site and would be re-used in the new building. The engineer on the project, Bahram Farzaneh, said he was unaware as to whether any pilings were still present, and doubtful as to whether they could be re-used, since the piling foundation of the new building will have to run the entire height of the structure to comply with modern building codes.
A small number of neighboring residents expressed complaints about the height of the building, though the height complies with the borough’s redevelopment plan, which had been proposed and adopted at several previous public meetings.
“Our building is three stories and this is going to be ten stories,” said Theresa Farrell, of Hamilton Avenue. “I’m thinking of the shadow this will cast on our building.”
Another member of the public came to endorse the work Matarese has done across the state after reading about his involvement in the project in the media.
“The steel structure was an eyesore,” said Robert Engel, of Ortley Beach. “This is a good, good contractor. He’s going to build a nice building, do a good job, pay his subcontractors well and work well with the citizenry. You’re dealing with a gentleman and I think you’re going to be happy.”
There is no confirmed date for construction to begin. Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz, who sits on the planning board, successfully argued that no building permit should be issued until a fence on a neighboring property damaged during the demolition of the “steel structure” is replaced, to which the developer agreed. The developer will also have to meet with public works and utilities officials on hookups and similar matters.
The property on which the ambitious project is proposed to be constructed was owned for more than a decade by nightclub operator Craparotta, who envisioned a multi-floor entertainment complex with pools, clubs and restaurants as far back as 2001. After the steel framing was installed, however, construction ground to a halt, encompassing the time period of the 2008 financial crisis, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and a host of legal disputes with a one-time business partner. The borough ultimately condemned the deteriorating framing, universally considered an eyesore, and declared the property as an area in need of redevelopment. SSH Boulevard, and its successor company, was appointed to redevelop the site based on specifications outlined by the borough council and planning board during a series of public hearings at which public comment was accepted.
The application was approved in a 6-0 vote by the board.