pic north end
By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
The Historic Preservation Commission of Neptune which also includes Ocean Grove has refused to grant a “certificate of appropriateness” to the proposal to build a hotel, condominium and retail project at the north end of the boardwalk, a project which had been before that board since 2021 and debated for years before that.
The proposal by Ocean Grove North End Development LLC encompasses 17 Spray Ave., the boardwalk’s north end, Lake Avenue, the walkway into Asbury Park, and Beach Avenue.
The applicant is local attorney William P. Gannon and his development company seeking approval for a 40-room hotel, 39 condominiums, including 36 two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units and 7,350-square-feet of retail space along the boardwalk. It would include four primary buildings where one building, the hotel, would be five stories and two other buildings would be multi-family structures with two stories.
The development would arise from a below grade parking structure with room for 140 vehicles.
The project previously had received Neptune Planning Board approval, approval of the township’s Redevelopment entity and authorization from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
In a five-minute meeting conducted via Zoom last month, commission members voted unanimously to memorialize its denial of the requested certificate for the lots that are within the historic district oceanfront. The commission members only had jurisdiction in this case over design guidelines. They determined the Queen Anne Victorian elements had not been satisfied although attorney Jennifer S. Krimko, a lawyer with the Ocean Township firm of Ansell Grimm and Aaron, PC. said the design guidelines do not mandate a Queen Anne design be used exclusively in that zone.
Commission members Jenny Shaffer, Joseph Wierzbinsky, Kurt Cavano, Jeffrey Ruddell, Lucinda Heinlein, Deborah Osepchuk and James McNamara voted to deny the request. Members Douglas MacMorris and Douglas McKeon did. not attend.
But the vote hardly seems to settle the matter.
“The applicant intends to avail itself of all available legal remedies,” Krimko said.
The Queen Anne style of British architecture refers to either the English Baroque architecture of the time of Queen Anne – reigning from 1702 to 1714- or the British Queen Anne Revival popularized during the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century.. It calls to mind those designs of English manor houses and other elegant buildings.
The hotel seemed to pose problems for the commission after architect Stephen Carlidge of Shore Point Architecture reviewed plans during public hearings on April 6, 2021, April 27, 2021, April 19, 2022 and June 8, 2022. Krimko maintained during her appearances before the board that the project was “substantially consistent” with the redevelopment plan.
Carlidge explained that the hotel would feature two octagonal towers at each end as well as wrap-around porches and some balconies. The design includes 30 feet of green space approaching the hotel entrance. The retail stores would not feature a direct connection to the hotel.
The commission weighed in with a different view: “…The commission remained concerned that this design does not have enough charm, exuberance, visual pleasure or a wow factor to fit even the Seaside Vernacular style.’ Carlidge rather said he was seeking the Seaside Vernacular” which he described as a “catchall” phrase for such waterfront designs.
The commission did not endorse the architect’s position, noting “this redevelopment provides the rare opportunity to build a truly iconic building in Ocean Grove. It will be the most viewed building in Ocean Grove.”