BRICK – Officials said the number of vacant stores in town has diminished, thanks in part to the “Storefront Revitalization Program” that encourages businesses to move into vacant stores instead of constructing new ones.
The program waives the permit and inspection fees for locations that have less than 5,000 square feet and have been vacant for over a year.
It’s helped encourage new businesses, said Mayor John G. Ducey, who introduced the program June 2015.
“We’ve had a plethora of new businesses that have come to town in the past six to eight months,” Ducey said from his office on March 2. “Our goal is to have different types of businesses open up, and there have been great, innovative ideas. There’s lots of cool stuff.”
Ducey said efforts also came from contacting each landlord who had a vacancy – whether a portion of a strip mall or a larger, anchor store that was vacant.
“We contacted every empty store to see if there was anything we could do to help, so we reached out and made those contacts,” Ducey said.
Some of the larger empty stores such as the former Work Out World and Sports Authority remain vacant, but the former Pathmark should reopen as a new grocery store in the near future.
The owner of that strip mall, Brixmor of Maryland, only wants a grocery store to be there, Ducey said.
“There’s two grocery stores with the same name ‑‑ but two groups of people ‑‑ that want to bring the same food store to our town. One wants a liquor license ‑‑ they’re actually willing to pay more because they’re going to take over a couple of storefronts, the Pathmark and the one next door for a liquor store,” he said.
They are trying to negotiate and find a distribution liquor license, Ducey said. The township owns one and planned to sell it but pulled it when local liquor store owners said there were enough liquor stores in the township.
The license could be sold with some restrictions, Ducey said; for example, it would not be available townwide and could only be used in a shopping center.
There is another distribution license available from an unnamed liquor store owner in town who wants to sell their license, Ducey said, so that could also be available for the Pathmark location.
The mayor said he has been trying to get a Wegman’s to open in Brick. A year ago they said they were willing to open a store here, but not until 2021 because they only open two to three stores a year.
Brixmor did not want to wait and have the Pathmark store empty until 2021, “so that whole thing fell apart…there’s nowhere else in town that’s big enough for Wegman’s, so that’s why we do not have a Wegman’s,” he said.
Ducey said he has also reached out to Cabela’s, Dave and Buster’s, and restaurants like Chevy’s, Margaritas and On the Border.
“The problem is, we no longer have any consumption liquor licenses for bars or restaurants. We only have so many based upon the population done at the census time…they all have bars and they like to sell margaritas as part of their business plan, so none of them may be coming to Brick anytime soon since we don’t have any liquor licenses left,” Ducey said. “It’s a terrible law but that’s what we have to deal with.”
There are two consumption liquor licenses in town that aren’t currently being used: River Watch (formerly the Pilot House) and the former Joe’s Crab Shack, which are both closed but may reopen as new businesses by the end of 2017.
Also recently opened in Brick: You can bring your own food and bottle while learning how to paint at the new Jersey Shore Paint Party at 1787 Route 88.
At the new True Rest Float Spa at 990 Cedar Bridge Ave. customers experience Float Therapy in pods filled with heavily salted water designed for stress reduction, pain relief and more. Wash Your Paws at 744 Mantoloking Road is a self-service dog wash.