Developers Respond to Pushback to Plans for High-Rise Condos on Belmar’s 12th Avenue

Since plans arose to bring two high-rise condo buildings to 12th Avenue, signs have gone up throughout the neighborhood, including next to the buildings where one proposal has since been dropped. Credits: Cathy Goetz
While plans for a high-rise condo building at 105-109 12th Avenue in Belmar are being dropped, the proposed building on the Belmar Inn site is being reduced by one floor and 6,800 square feet. Credits: Cathy Goetz

BELMAR, NJ — Public pressure from residents opposed to plans for two high-rise condominium buildings on 12th Avenue in Belmar has resulted in the withdrawal of one proposal and the reduction in height of the second oceanview building across the street.

Developers Vincent and Michael Falcone have decided not to continue at this time with the application process to bring a five-story, 24-unit structure to the consolidated site at 105, 107 and 109 12th Avenue, according to their attorney William Shipers.

Meanwhile, Shipers said he plans to move forward with the other application at 112 and 114 12th Avenue — occupied by the now-closed Belmar Inn — but with several major changes made after “listening to the public” and speaking with the architect, engineer and others involved in the project.

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The formal hearing on the application by Edelman Investment Group, which is being led by Shipers, is scheduled for June 28 before Belmar’s zoning board of adjustment.

Based on the revisions, the proposed building’s penthouse-level fifth floor has been removed and the ceiling heights on the remaining floors have been lowered, reducing its proposed overall height by 11½ feet to 41½ feet —  about six inches taller than the existing Belmar Inn, according to the plan.

While the building would still house 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments now on three floors, its total square footage is 6,800 square feet less than in the original plan, said Shipers. The bottom floor would remain a surface parking area with 24 spaces.

Both applications were put on hold for a month after the zoning board lacked a quorum at a May 23 special meeting to begin hearings on the controversial projects, which have generated mounting concern from residents over their scope and size.

While Shipers pointed out that the two summer rentals at 107 and 109 12th Avenue were not leased for this season by the Falcones as an “act of good faith” during the application process of the now-withdrawn plan, he remains in negotiations with the owners of the Belmar Inn — a sale that is contingent on the approval of the redevelopment plan.

Although the 40-room hotel is currently closed due to fire code violations, it is highly likely the owner would make the necessary repairs and reopen the problematic establishment if the sale of the property does not materialize, Shipers said.

“They (Rainbow Hospitality of Edison) are a financial viable and stable LLC,” he said. “They are not in financial jeopardy. They can do the repairs and reopen, “ he said “They are pushing me to make a decision, asking am I closing (on the sale) or walking?”

For years, 12th Avenue residents have complained about their rowdy summer neighbors at 105, 107 and 109 12th Avenue — the site of some of the most notorious summer “animal houses” with chronic records of quality-of-life violations. And for at least two decades, the Belmar Inn has been commonly described as “a public nuisance” with a transient clientele that draws frequent visits by the Belmar police.

However, residents have been vocal in their opposition to the new residential projects, claiming the proposed buildings are too big for the sites, are out of character with the neighborhood and will dwarf the much-smaller single-family homes on the street.

In assessing the overall situation,  Shipers said that people fear change — and even those that lead to improvements — for a variety of reasons. One of those is the misconception that development will lead to higher taxes and property values, thereby making their own home unaffordable and forcing them to move.

“They are not going to be displaced by an increase in taxes that is spread across the entire town or a rise in the value of their property,” Shipers said. “What will happen is the property will be more valuable, more salable when they want to sell, retire, relocate or refinance. And they will have a better quality of life.”

For Belmar, the actions of its community show other investors and developers “what kind of a town Belmar is … in its desire to rid itself of problem properties — and whether the objections of a few will overpower the good and benefit of the community as a whole,” he added.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s official electronic newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is a locally owned news organization serving the community. Our advertisers enable us to publish local online news at no charge. Sign up for our free daily e-News, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s official electronic newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is a locally owned news organization serving the community. Our advertisers enable us to publish local online news at no charge. Sign up for our free daily e-News, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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