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Saturday, May 25, 2024


Sea Isle Breaks Ground on $21 Million Community Center

Collin Hall
Officials and those involved with the new community center, including state Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, second from left, and architect Henry Hengchua, third from left, break ground on Sea Isle City’s community center on Saturday, May 4.

By Collin Hall

SEA ISLE CITY – After seven years of planning, a referendum, community surveys, and lots of time in the oven, Sea Isle City broke ground Saturday, May 4, on its 44,000-square-foot community center on 4501 Park Road. The center is the largest capital project the city has undertaken in many years; it will serve as the “heart” of the city, Katherine Custer, director of community services with the city, told the Herald.

The center has an estimated construction timeline of 18 months. It will house a 9,100-square-foot gymnasium, an elevated walking track dubbed the “skywalk,” a community meeting space with a kitchen and a stage, an NBA-size basketball court, three regulation pickleball courts, a regulation volleyball court, business offices, an office for the Board of Education, a 1,600-square-foot outdoor patio, a covered parking garage with 40 spaces, beach wheelchair storage, and plenty of restrooms.

Mayor Leonard Desiderio told the crowd, “Don’t laugh at this, but we’re trying to lure the 76’ers here for some kind of activities in the summer.”

The building’s construction is contracted to Ernest Bock & Sons for $21.1 million. Tom Bock, representing the construction firm, told the Herald that they specialize in community-center projects, schools, police stations, and other municipal projects.

“This is the nicest one we’ve ever worked on,” he told the Herald. “We were ecstatic that we were the lowest bidder; this is our specialty.” Bock said that he grew up in Sea Isle City and is excited to be back nearly 50 years after his first job there.

The new center was designed by architect Henry Hengchua, who told the Herald that the building is designed in a way so that nearby homes can not see into it. He visited the plot of land during sunrise, sunset, and moonfall to see how the light might be best captured by the building’s design. The east-facing main lobby, for example, will catch the morning light with massive windows.

“As an architect, I’m always trying different things. We squeeze things together, we pull them apart, we try to set a stage here. We choreograph how people move in a space: Where you stop, what you see,” he said.

Custer told the Herald that the center has been a “really long time coming.” But the high cost and long wait, she said, are worth it. “This is a place that will be used for generations to come.”

Are you excited for the upcoming community center? Have questions? Contact the reporter, Collin Hall, at or 609-886-8600, ext. 156.

Content Marketing Coordinator / Reporter

Collin Hall grew up in Cape May County and works as a content manager for Do The Shore, as well as a reporter. He currently lives in Villas.

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