By DON STINE
Redevelopment at the long-neglected North End of Ocean Grove took a step forward this week when Neptune officials approved an official agreement that is expected to eventually result in a comprehensive redevelopment plan.
Township Redevelopment Attorney Joseph J. Maraziti, based in Short Hills, stressed that this is not a redevelopment agreement but part of negotiations towards a redevelopment agreement with Ocean Grove North End Development LLC.
“There will be many topics at many levels discussed and resolved (in the agreement). Nothing is even resolved at this time,” he said.
“This is just the first step and that’s where we are tonight,” Mayor Nicholas Williams said.
The Township Committee unanimously approved entering into the agreement.
The North End is three acres of property near the boardwalk, just south of the Casino building in Asbury Park. The land is owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. The site once boasted a pool, a large 255-room hotel, and retail establishments on the boardwalk and along Wesley Lake. It also once had a carousel, a theatre, and bowling alleys. It was destroyed in a 1974 fire has remained abandoned ever since and people consider it an eyesore in the historic district.
The new tentative proposal calls for a hotel and residential condominium units in a plan that in many ways, duplicates what earlier proposal plans were calling for- a hotel and residential units.
Twenty surface parking spaces would be provided and another 144 parking spaces created in a subterranean parking area.
Some residents questioned the wisdom of putting a parking garage underground given the site’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Wesley Lake. Others asked if the plan includes any clean-up of Wesley Lake and said that the project will increase density and traffic.
The agreement terminates in six months but there is an option to continue with the agreement.
“The parties can agree to keep coming,” Maraziti said.
He said that the financing appears to be in place for a project and that this is “the farthest along we’ve been” toward building at the North End,
Maraziti said any final redevelopment plan “will have great specificity” about what will be done and timeframe.
“All details will be fleshed-out during the (agreement) negotiations. I think we will get something suitable to bring to fruition. It is important for the community to understand the project” he said.
It is estimated that redeveloping the site will lead to the creation of 40 permanent jobs and about 100 construction jobs while it is being built.