The Seaside Heights planning board on Monday night approved a 10-unit townhome development to replace a restaurant and an empty lot that has been so for the better part of a century, representatives for the developer said.
The townhome community, approved in a unanimous 6-0 vote by board members, will replace the “Just Breakfast” restaurant at 501 Ocean Terrace, as well as a dirt-and-gravel parking lot located next door, running along Webster Avenue a few steps from the boardwalk. The townhome community is being constructed by Sixteen Webster Avenue LLC, a consortium of local builders.
“The property dates back to the 1930s,” said project engineer Matthew Wilder, during testimony on the matter. “Generally, what you see on this property is what you’ve seen for 70 years on this property. And you can tell it’s been that way for 70 years.”
The property lines, he said, are loosely adhered-to, and a cooking vent-stack protrudes more than 18 inches and encroaches on neighboring properties. The project required a height variance since it was proposed at 50-feet, however the lot lines would be corrected, and Wilder explained that the majority of the nearby buildings were either over 50-feet themselves or within two feet of what was being requested, and only a portion of one of the two physical structures that will make up the complex will stand at 50-feet due to outdoor amenities.
“On the west side building, you have more of an access to the rooftop,” said Wilder. “It’s not a consistent 50-feet.”
Wilder said significant green space is being added.
“We have planted areas along the frontage where it is not appropriate for either pedestrian or vehicular access,” he said. “We’ve pushed it back seven feet from Ocean Terrace and landscaped everything.”
The project did face criticism from several residents of the adjacent “Royal Sands” condominium complex, who said the new building would block some of their views, as well as the sunlight they currently enjoy.
“Can you help me understand why it’s so important to have water views there and eliminate water views for Royal Sands?” asked Christina Dunkin, a resident of that building.
Another resident asked the project to be reduced from 10 units to eight units. Each unit will take up 1,150 square feet in area. The buildings were designed by noted local architect Jason Hanrahan of MODE Architecture, the firm behind a number of the modern construction projects in town.
Attorney Matthew Heagen, representing the developers, said even if the property were to be subdivided into eight single-family homes, history has shown that the height of those homes would likely be the same, and there would only be a four-foot gap in between each.
After a short conference, the developers told board members that they would agree to move the buildings two feet in order to restore sightlines and provide a greater amount of sunshine to their neighbors.
“The height variance is limited to one building, not both, and does not cover the complete rooftop,” said Heagen. “If the board feels like the development is better if the develop is moved two feet to the south … the applicant has no objection to that.”
Indeed, the board looked favorably upon the offer before approving the project.
Mike Loundy, a prominent real estate broker in Seaside Heights who also serves as the borough’s Director of Community Improvements, said the ongoing investment in town is encouraging and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
“We are very excited about what this brings to that area of town with beautiful, large townhouse style units with ocean views,” Loundy said. “It really cleans up that area. We just want to continue to the progress we started after Hurricane Sandy, and we feel this is an integral part of this.”