WILDWOOD CREST — The iconic, former Oceanview Motel in Wildwood Crest is set to get a new owner and a big renovation. The $10 million sale closed in the fall of 2021 and it plans to reopen in May 2023 after renovations are made.
Ultimately, the new owner, Madison Resorts, plans to put about $12 million into renovating the motel, which will reopen as Madison Resorts Wildwood Crest. Locally, the reaction to the sale of the hotel is favorable.
“My initial reaction is (that) I’m very happy they closed on the property. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy transaction…a lot of moving targets,” Mayor Don Cabrera said.
Cabrera said he was happy that Madison Resorts plans to keep the business as a motel and not sell off the individual units as condominiums.
“It’s so helpful to have a renovated hotel. I’m glad it will keep the transient traffic, as well,” he added.
Cabrera described the location, 7201 Ocean Avenue, as being the hub of Wildwood Crest, and a place where the borough has been investing a lot of taxpayer dollars to improve. The borough already renovated beachfront street ends, bike paths and lanes, and will construct a new beach patrol headquarters in the area. The borough completed work on a playground fitness park about two blocks from the site of the new Madison Resort.
“It’s a really popular spot in Wildwood Crest,” Cabrera said.
Cabrera said he spoke with Madison Resorts founder Dan Alicea, who told him of a vision for the future when the resort hopes to cater to the wedding crowd. In announcing its plans for the motel, the resort announced plans for the motel to include “the addition of a world-class wedding venue that will seat up to 250 people, with unobstructed views of the beach.”
In an interview with the Herald, Alicea said the resort project will be broken into two phases. The first job will be to get the building ready to open ahead of Memorial Day Weekend 2023.
“That is our intention,” Alicea said. Madison Resorts closed on the property Aug. 30, and construction started the next day.
By “construction,” he means rehabilitation of the building. Alicea said he feels the building was in disrepair for a long time, but the bones of the building were there to turn it into a first-class resort.
“No mistaking, this is a massive undertaking. No doubt. But we are working through it and will work all winter long,” he said.
The goal is to do the exterior first while the weather is favorable and move to the inside after. The top floor, which is where the bridal venue will be located, will be completed in 2024.
Taylor Henry, president of the Wildwood Historical Society, is very pleased that the new owners have a heart for preserving something of the history of the Wildwoods. She said she is happy the owners are keeping the iconic features of the building, including the “blast off” roof design, which was based on airport designs in the mid-20th century.
Henry said members of the community were also happy to see the lobby will be preserved. She said demolishing the lobby would defeat the purpose of preserving the building.
Alicea said the overall structure of the lobby and roof will be maintained, but some of the lobby will have to be removed.
“The new design will mimic the original. And the blast-off roof is a very important design feature, and the architects are keeping to that as well,” he said.
Alicea said maintaining the character of the Crest is very important to his family. His wife Stephanie was born and raised in Wildwood Crest, and her parents still live there. He said having the ability to preserve history in Wildwood Crest was something near and dear to their hearts.
“When we saw this opportunity there was not a debate; there was an emphatic, ‘We are going to do this!’” he said.
The Aliceas have four children — three boys and a girl, whose name is “Madison.”
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