Coaster File Photo
This hotel in Neptune, severely damaged in a storm two years ago, is one of the parcels of property planned for redevelopment.
By WILLIAM CLARK
Although an ambitious redevelopment proposal is being discussed for four sites along Shark River in Neptune, it is uncertain when that development might take place.
Last week, Sen. Vin Gopal unveiled that there were preliminary development plans for the Headliner, Sunsets Riverfront Restaurant, the former Neptune Motor Lodge and one more piece of land along the north bank of the Shark River.
The plans called for a new hotel, restaurant, night club and apartments. But not in the immediate future according to township officials and business owners.
On Friday, social media accounts for The Headliner announced that the night club “will remain open for business for several years to come.”
Neither township Business Administrator Gina LaPlaca nor Redevelopment Coordinator Bernie Haney have received any indication from representatives of the redevelopers that they are ready to move forward.
“As soon as we do receive something the Redevelopment Committee will undertake our usual review process and make recommendations to the Township Committee for their action,” LaPlaca said in an email.
Haney said the project has “not even taken step one at this point.”
Gopal is pleased about the potential development.
“It’s been a redevelopment zone since 2007 and there’s been no movement there,” he said.
Gopal said that he hosted the four property owners at his Senate offices to help facilitate an agreement in theory, something the township wanted to see in terms of a unified vision. This consensus building became clear after Gopal met with residents and township officials about four weeks ago.
Ultimately, any plans must be approved by the township but Gopal believes the benefits of the project should set the wheels in motion quickly.
“I think it’s going to be in the town’s interest and everyone’s interest to move this along,” he said.
The economic boon the area will get from the redevelopment will extend further than just the businesses. Gopal referred to the hundreds of residents in the section of Neptune Township and Neptune City who will potentially see their property values rise.
The motel has been a site of consternation for local residents since extensive damage from a storm in March 2021 closed the business. Several have shown up to committee meetings and have continuously been in search of answers as to when the derelict structure would be addressed. LaPlaca said during a recent meeting that permits to refurbish the motel had been approved for the owner.
Steve Roberts, who is a neighbor of the hotel, believes the confusion is not helping the situation.
“The township needs to be more informative and aggressive,” he said in an email “Rather than making excuses on this issue as to why this building is still there and their hands are tied.”
Roberts coordinated an effort last summer to gather neighborhood residents in hopes of finding a resolution with officials.
The announcement of the proposed redevelopment last week was much welcomed by Roberts.
“It would be a fantastic boost to a hidden gem of the township and improve the North Island Community and surrounding areas,” he said.