SEASIDE HEIGHTS – It has been referred to by many residents and visitors to Seaside Heights as an “eyesore” and in response, Borough officials took action recently in the first phase of condemning what was to have been a nightclub complex.
That incomplete complex has been rusting on the Boulevard for more than a decade. The structure exists between Hamilton and Webster avenues. It is owned by Hemingway’s Café owner/operator Vincent Craparotta.
Craporotta at one time had planned to build a huge pool bar, nightclub and restaurant at the site but due to the financial crisis of 2008 coupled with a lack of financing following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, construction ceased.
“We got an appraisal,” Mayor Anthony Vaz said. That appraisal was sent to the property owner to see if there can be a settlement. “And if not we go to the court. And from that point on it is called eminent domain and at that point it would become ours. We would own it.”
The mayor explained that all required permits for the project ran out beyond their extended deadline and the Borough’s governing body and planning board declared the property as being in need of redevelopment. The Borough Council recently voted to use their authority to take the property through eminent domain.
“We would obviously take the steel structure down as we did with the senior citizen project in town and we’d remove the blight to the taxpayers and put something better there. In 2008 we had the great recession and Governor Christie said at that time we are going to give you another five years from the state of New Jersey for the permits and then in 2012 we had the superstorm and he gave another five years but in 2017 we started this process back and forth,” Mayor Vaz added.
“It has now been three years and with all the challenges that (Craparotta) has been given us in the planning board we said it is over now. Either develop it or at this point I feel confident that we will see some progress. It would be better to just be a parking lot,” the mayor said.
The law requires that the borough compensate Craparotta for the property’s value. Officials would then be seeking developers with verified financial backing to buy the land and build on it.
The borough already received a copy of a consulting firm’s plan to redevelop the entire Boulevard business district, and officials have indicated that they prefer a mixed-use development for the community’s available parcels.
Either way, according to Mayor Anthony Vaz, the days of the steel frame eyesore are numbered.