WILDWOOD CREST – The new Crest Arts Pavilion is getting ready for a grand opening, June 16, after holding a “soft opening,” March 24, by hosting an art competition held by the Wildwood Crest Creative Arts Council.
The building was redesigned from essentially one single room with carpeted floors to create various new spaces, including a gallery, sitting and viewing room, retail space, and tourist information.
“Our first showing was a huge success due to the Creative Arts Council,” Mahon said. “We will do a lot more events geared toward the arts.”
The first event was an art competition open to all ages and abilities and judged by members of the public.
Mahon said in an interview with the Herald May 19 that the borough is still wrapping up a couple of loose ends, including awarding a contract for the coffee café. Mahon said it would not have a commercial kitchen but would have baked goods and coffee – serving indoor and beachgoing customers.
The borough was also setting up retail space where it would sell Wildwood Crest swag and apparel, such as it sells at pop-up events around the borough.
“It’s all part of the branding effort in the Crest,” Mahon said.
The borough is planning to have firepits for evening gatherings, plus rainy-day movies and other programs for the inside, under the direction of the Recreation Department.
Mahon said the inside of the Arts Pavilion will be available to rent for private affairs. She said club meetings may be held there, and several of the activities held at the Crest Pier will be moved to the Pavilion. Rentals are handled by the Recreation Department.
The Wildwood Crest Tourism Department is also moving into the Arts Pavilion, in part, due to the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol headquarters building being rehabilitated. Beach Patrol operations will move temporarily into the Nesbit Center where tourism had been operating. Mahon said this was a good example of the cooperation that took place between departments related to this project.
Mahon described the rehabilitating and repurposing of the former library as a “labor of love.” She said the building was constructed on land donated by the Fox family and it served the community for many years until the county built a new library two blocks away. After that, the building was virtually abandoned for several years until a new plan was hatched to create a multi-purpose community facility.
Mahon said in the repurposing of the building, the borough maintained the original brick wall on the south side of the building, filling in an open space with matching brick. The area is now an art exhibition area.
“The renovation of an older building with historic value to our residents was difficult but we managed to keep historical features yet modernized it,” Mahon said.
Mahon said the project was being finished under the contract amount of $2,054,334. She said the borough was able to offset the amount using grants.
She said the introduction of an Arts Pavilion adds another feature not only for the year-round community but for visitors, as well.
“This building is more than one thing. It shows there are more things to do in Wildwood Crest than to go to the beach,” Mahon said.
In addition to the new Arts Pavilion, the borough established the Thomas Ridings Fund, which was started with a $10,000 donation to promote the arts. The borough set aside $2,000 from the donation to begin a fund for arts-related programs.
Phase II of the project will be the completion of the exterior of the Arts Pavilion, which will include electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
A grand opening ceremony will take place at the Crest Arts Pavilion, 6301 Ocean Ave., at 5 p.m. June 16.
Contact the author, Christopher South, at email@example.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.