Uncertain Future for Ocean Grove Fire Site

By DON STINE

Debris from the fire which destroyed the 100-year-old North End Pavilion on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove may still be scattered about, but what is the possibility of rebuilding a similar building in its place?

Neptune Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta said township officials have no problem with the historic structure being rebuilt at the northern end of Ocean Grove.

“From the township’s perspective, the building is in the Northeast Redevelopment area and we would allow it to be rebuilt,” he said.

However, it will ultimately be up to the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) of 1973 that set federal limitations on building or rebuilding in coastal areas.

“It will probably become a CAFRA issue. And I don’t know what a CAFRA review would look like. That is a battle that would still have to be fought,” Gadaleta said.

A representative of the property owner, Maplewood-Ocean Grove Asso., Inc., said they have no comment on the issue right now.

A spectacular beachfront fire recently destroyed the landmark building in Ocean Grove sending thick, dark plumes of smoke down the Asbury Park boardwalk and all the way into northern Monmouth County.

Firefighters from Monmouth, Ocean, and Union counties responded to the call. The Monmouth County Fire Marshall’s Office and the county Prosecutors Office are investigating the fire.

The pavilion was built around 1908 with the 255-room North End Hotel, across the boardwalk, being built in 1910-1911. The hotel was razed in the 1970s but the pavilion remained on the beach. Originally, there was a walkway across the boardwalk from the hotel to the second story of The Pavilion.

“The building used to be a lot bigger but the 1944 hurricane took off a rear section that was never replaced,” Ocean Gove Historical Society President Robert Waitt said.

He said the first floor of the building was commercial spaces, with the second floor designed to allow visitors to relax and enjoy the ocean view. The Homestead Restaurant was established there in 1915 and closed in the early 1970s.

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