WATERFRONT HEIGHTS – Plans for an eight-story structure with 79 residential units, a restaurant and retail on the site of the steel building on the boulevard took a big step forward on Wednesday when the borough council has appointed SSH Boulevard LLC as the conditional redeveloper for the property.
SSH Boulevard LLC includes Dan Matarese, owner of Danco General Contracting Inc. in Marlboro; Zach Rich, director of promotion and concrete sales for Silvi Group and a Republican who is Hunterdon County Commissioner; attorney Douglas Steinhardt, partner at law firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor and former chairman of the New Jersey State Republican Committee, and Joanne Gilmore, paralegal and local consultant, wife of former chairman of the County GOP Ocean and Seaside George R. Gilmore, originally from Heights.
The board chose SSH Boulevard LLC’s proposal over a plan submitted by a group led by the owner of the steel skeleton property, Vincent J. Craporotta Jr. Craporatta’s proposal included 65 condominium units and a pool deck. , as well as a commercial space on the first floor of an 88-foot-high building.
The land is located on the boulevard between Hamilton and Webster avenues and contains a four story rusty steel structure.
In March, Craporatta sued Seaside Heights, trying to prevent the borough from seizing the Boulevard property via a prominent estate. This trial is still ongoing.
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“We’ll go to the judge, and do our thing,” Craporatta said after council designated SSH Boulevard as the remodeler of his property. Craporatta’s attorney, Edward F. Liston Jr., called the board’s action “shameful.”
Council members said they were excited about SSH Boulevard’s plans for the property, where the steel skeleton has been located for more than a decade. Officials here have long argued that the rusty steel structure was an obstacle to redevelopment.
âI am really delighted to give this new redeveloper the opportunity to do something with this site,â said Councilor Harry Smith. “It has been horrifying for years.”
Councilor Richard Tompkins said the redevelopment of the Boulevard property may encourage other developers to come to Seaside Heights.
âWe had some real excitement tonight here in town,â said Councilor Richard Tompkins. “… Once the Boulevard starts it will leave … I think our future is bright.”
Council also passed a resolution establishing the fair market value of the Boulevard property at $ 1.8 million, the amount that the borough appraiser, Henry J. Mancini & Associates, determined.
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Seaside Heights previously passed an ordinance that would allow the borough to issue up to $ 2 million in bonds to pay for the acquisition of the property. This money would be recovered by selling the land to the redeveloper.
SSH Boulevard’s preliminary proposal includes the start of repayments when the first certificate of occupancy is issued for the project.
Rich and Matarese have set an aggressive timeline for the boulevard project, which includes completing the steel skeleton removal on the property by June 15.
“We will demolish this building as soon as the city can issue a demolition permit,” said Matarese. “Two days later, this building will be down and out of your sight.”
Construction of the 225 square foot residential building, which would contain 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units, could be completed by next June, he said.
âWe’re here because we believe in Seaside,â Rich said. “It is special.” He noted that among the many projects the Silvi Group has been involved in is the Wave Resort in Long Branch, which is a similar location by the sea.
The Boulevard project would be a concrete building with hurricane-resistant glass windows. Matarese said the condominiums are designed as year-round residences and not for summer visitors.
Matarese has built multi-million dollar apartment complexes in various New Jersey municipalities including Clark, Cranford, Bloomfield and Hackensack, and has also completed numerous demolition projects, according to the redevelopment plan submitted to the Borough by SSH Boulevard.
SSH Boulevard produced a $ 35 million line of credit to fund the project, which Matarese said would cost $ 30 million.
Craporatta, who also owns Hemingway’s Cafe on the boulevard, said Wednesday he estimated the value of the land and steel structure on his property to be $ 5-6 million, which would provide seed funding for the project. .
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His proposal, put forward by architect Gary Lepore and local businessman and construction project manager Kristopher Sabey, was to reuse the existing steel on the site and include 1 and 2 bedroom units, including some would be rentals.
Craporatta said the pre-sale of the condominium units would help secure additional funding to complete his project, which has an estimated cost of around $ 27 million.
He questioned the schedule presented by SSH Boulevard, noting that developers would need to obtain a permit from the state’s Coastal Facilities Overhaul Act (CAFRA) before starting construction. Obtaining such a permit – necessary for larger developments in coastal areas – can take several months, Craporatta said.
âWe feel that we have a little advantage because we have already started,â he said.
Liston questioned the whole process, noting that Ocean County Superior Court Judge Craig L. Wellerson tasked Craporatta on April 30 to present his redevelopment plans at Wednesday’s meeting. This gave Craporatta little time to prepare for the meeting, he said.
Liston noted that Craporatta has already filed two sets of plans for the land; his lawsuit argues that the borough did not allow Craporatta to appear before the planning board to present a revised development plan for the property which Liston says complies with the new zoning rules for the boulevard.
âYou open the door wide for these people and slam it in the face of my clients,â he said. He said the Craporatta project will not demand a tax break or force the borough to spend money to acquire the land.
Mayor Anthony Vaz previously noted that Seaside Heights had been trying to work with Craporatta for years; the mayor said that at one point borough officials asked him if he wanted to redevelop the property himself.
Officials also said Craporatta had not shown that he had the capacity to finance the boulevard project.
Craporatta began the process of building a nightclub and banquet hall complex on the Boulevard property a dozen years ago, when Seaside Heights was a different location. The property has a long history of nightlife: Yakety Yak and Club XS nightclubs were both formerly located on the site.
The borough has in recent years attempted to move away from its old party atmosphere and rename Seaside Heights as a family destination.
Borough attorney Jean Cipriani said once the borough acquired title to the boulevard, Seaside Heights would move forward to negotiate a redevelopment deal with SSH Boulevard. This deal could include a tax allowance for the project.
Jean Mikle has covered Toms River and several other towns in Ocean County, and has written on local government and politics on the Jersey Shore for almost 37 years. She is also passionate about the Shore’s rich music scene. Contact her: @jeanmikle, [email protected]