By Kimberly Bosco and Chris Lundy
TOMS RIVER – And just like that, a Toms River “landmark” has expired.
On July 29, the final walls of the Red Carpet Inn fell, making way for new waterfront development in the downtown Toms River area.
It was just a few weeks ago that a construction vehicle took that first ceremonial swing at the facade of the old hotel during a demolition on July 18. While it may not have been the big “kaboom” most were expecting, but it was a step toward the long-awaited reinvention of the downtown area.
Since then, construction crews have been hacking away at the building, which was deemed a nuisance to the township and its residence due to issues with drugs and crime. They are clearing the property of the structure to make way for a large-scale housing complex.
The township closed the building in October and this year bought it from the owner for $3.3 million after negotiation.
The demolition was done by Site Enterprises, Inc. of Little Egg Harbor. They were the lowest bidder at $345,000, according to the township.
Last year, the township bonded $4.8 million for the purchase and rehabilitation of the property.
The township is in the process of negotiating with Capodagli Property Company, LLC to redevelop the property.
A waterfront park would be constructed closest to the river, providing a buffer to flooding, since the area got hit pretty bad during Superstorm Sandy.
There would also be the Meridia Waterside project. This would have two floors of parking that would be shared during business hours with local businesses such as the Music Academy and Ocean Mental Health.
There would be a two-floor restaurant with a roof-top lounge overlooking the water. This restaurant would be run by the redeveloper.
The redeveloper wants to relocate the Poseidon Academy into the street level floor of the new building.
There would be a total of 560 proposed housing units between this one and another nearby property. A majority of these units would have one or two bedrooms. But some of them, by law, have to set aside three bedrooms for low-to-moderate income families. The other nearby property is on the parking lot that’s built on a hill up Irons Street, near the bank.
That property would house the Meridia Overlook. It is proposed to be a total of eight stories. However, since it’s built into a hill, it would only be six stories on the high side of the hill. Four of those stories would be parking.
Presently, there are 200 parking spaces near the Red Carpet and 100 on Irons Street, officials have said. If the proposal goes as planned, these would be replaced with 1,060 public parking spots between the two locations.
However, these plans are subject to change as they are just proposals at this point.
“This is the beginning of the revitalization of downtown Toms River,” Mayor Thomas Kelaher said during the demolition. “We’re looking forward to bigger, better things.”