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Key to Revitalization – Plans for Seaport Pier Advance 5.17.2006

By Rick Racela

NORTH WILDWOOD -Seaport Pier may not look like much now, but the city hopes that the dilapidated structure will one day become home to an aquarium, theater, spa, or maybe an upscale restaurant with second floor office buildings that overlook the beach.
The planning board unanimously voted May 10 to approve the redevelopment plan of Seaport Pier, presented by Professional municipal planner Stewart Wiser, along with the firm of Remington, Vernick & Walberg Engineers.
The vote was another step by the city, actually step four, to breathe life into the structure on the east side of the boardwalk at 22nd and 23rd avenues.
Wiser, told the board that the plan was flexible in order to allow for changes by a developer.
“We are not telling them (the developer) exactly what they have to do,” Wiser noted.
But, he added, the developer only has a small amount of wiggle room when it comes to changing to stipulations of the approved plan.
According to the plan, permitted uses could include:
*Restaurants
*Aquariums
*Theaters
*Active sport centers, such as mini golf or computer simulators
*Spas
*General business office spaces would be allowed, but limited to upper floors of the pier
In addition, Wiser said nightlife establishments would also be permitted, but food must be served.
“We wouldn’t allow just a dance club,” he said.  
Ancillary uses include:
*Bath houses or beach changing area
*Traditional rides, amusements or concession stands
Prohibited uses:
*Residential
*Tattoo parlors and other adult businesses
*Graphic displays of any materials that would be inappropriate for families, such as offensive t-shirts 
Wiser said the pier, if properly developed, would provide the city with substantial revenue and act as a primary agent for boardwalk revitalization.
“It has the potential to bring more of a year-round environment to the area,” he said.
In the meantime, Wiser suggested the city place temporary seasonal businesses at the pier, “in order to bring some life to the area.”
The only change the board made to the plan was to allow for possible employe parking beneath the pier.
In December of last year, the board voted to declare the structure in need of redevelopment.
The pier met seven of the eight criteria, set by the state, needed for redevelopment authorization. For example, the first requirement stated that “the generality of the buildings are substandard” and unfit. Wiser showed photographs of the area’s collection of empty retail shops with battered roofs and walls, and water damage.
In short, Wiser said, “the place is really falling apart.”
The plan will now go before city council. If it passes council’s approval, the city could go to a specific developer or seek proposals from several developers interested in turning the pier into a premiere attraction.
Contact Huggins at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or lhuggins@cmcherald.com

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