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Pacific Ave. Redevelopment Project First of its Kind in CMCo

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By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – The prospect of Wildwood’s Pacific Avenue redevelopment, centered around the area of Byrne Plaza and near residential areas, has Mayor Peter Byron’s phone “ringing from outside developers looking to come and jump on board.” 

Byron told the Board of County Commissioners, at their Feb. 23 caucus meeting, how the idea of a county-city partnership to spearhead the project sparked developers’ investment interest in the seaside city. 

The proposal was reviewed at the board’s internet meeting with Robert McGuigan, program manager, of the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, which is coordinating the project, the first of its kind in the county. 

County Planning Director Leslie Gimeno told the board the idea of a municipal redevelopment incentive was hatched in 2019. Its goal, she noted, is to aid towns that “may need an extra lift with technical or financial support” to start those activities. Thus, the county decided to help with that extra push to start the premier project in Wildwood.  

She said it is to be a model for other municipalities that have sections needing revitalization.  

The county hopes to establish a process that can be replicated throughout the cape, in areas of significant need. 

Wildwood was a “willing partner” in the project, she noted. The city was selected “based on some factors identified that showed them as a community in an area of distress.” 

The city’s role is to “employ all redevelopment powers that are vested in it through New Jersey statutes, including tax incentives and their cost-sharing of 20% of the initial $300,000 study,” she said. 

A public hearing was set for March 1 before the Wildwood Planning Board. Other times for public input will be available, she added.  

The planning firm of Clarke Caton Hintz was selected, Gimeno said. The firm has experience in landscape architecture and has done work in places including Asbury Park. 

Residential districts that shoulder the area around Byrne Plaza to the east and west are seen as being a key to the vitality of the commercial area, partly because they are within walking distance. 

McGuigan said marketing will be done to current and new businesses that might be interested in the project.  

Byron, citing developers’ interest, said, “They understand land right now is a whole lot more reasonable than it’s going to be this time next year.” 

He cited a “whole city block that we’re working on. While this is being done, we’re already working on a major project in town.” 

He continued that another developer “comes down and literally buys three city blocks.” 

County Budget Introduced 

At the regular Feb. 23 meeting, the board introduced its 2021 budget of $181 million, with $136.6 million raised by taxes. 

If adopted after a March hearing, the tax rate is projected to be $.2374, an increase of one cent over the 2020 rate.  

For every $100,000 of assessed value, the budget will require another $10.   

Pacific Ave. Repaving Contract 

Pacific Avenue (CR 621), in Wildwood Crest and Lower Township, will be repaved under a $4.8 million (rounded up) contract commissioners awarded Feb. 23.  

The contract, for $4,798,764.80, went to L. Feriozzi Concrete Co., of Atlantic City. It was deemed the lowest responsible bid of seven bids opened Dec. 30, 2020.  

Among stipulations in the resolution was that the firm “shall reach out to all potential trades through the course of the work.” 

“If it is determined that L. Feriozzi has not made genuine (good faith efforts) or stops making attempts to satisfy the 17% DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) the NJDOT (state Dept. of Transportation) may impose fines for non-compliance.”  

Should that occur, the county will not make up the difference for any financial fines as reimbursement to the firm, according to the resolution.  

Change Orders OK’d 

The board approved a change order, for $81,600, to the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, for design and construction for the Government Services District at the county airport. The change resulted from a decision to go from multiple prefabricated structures to larger buildings. 

Another change order was approved, for $7,640, to Buell Kratzer Powell LTD, for a three-phase electrical service to the Lion Ridge exhibit, at the county zoo. 

Bridge Work Contract 

The board awarded a $334,890 contract for bridge engineering services for the design of the Great Channel Bridge superstructure repairs and fender replacement to WSP USA Inc.  

The bridge connects Middle Township and Stone Harbor. 

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