The rebuilding of Belmar’s boardwalk has grabbed headlines in recent months, with an ambitious plan to reopen the structure well before Memorial Day weekend. But on the other side of town, an effort to redevelop the borough’s marina is slated to forge ahead, and it could be one model through which post-Hurricane Sandy development gets done in…
The rebuilding of Belmar’s boardwalk has generated plenty of headlines, with a stronger structure that should be open well before the tourists arrive Memorial Day weekend. But it’s the redevelopment of Belmar’s marina at the other end of the borough that may foretell how post-Hurricane Sandy development gets done in hard-hit towns.
Local officials and Chefs International Inc., the Point Pleasant Beach-based restaurant group, are working to finalize a roughly $8 million redevelopment plan for the marina, which would add an 18,000-square-foot dining and commercial building and miniature golf course to an outdoor bar that opened there last summer.
Notably, the redevelopment is the product of a public-private partnership, though it predates Sandy’s arrival by several months. A proposal calls for Chefs International to lease the borough-owned land for at least 30 years, starting at about $240,000 annually, and the business will seek a special state-issued liquor license, called a special concessionaire permit, to operate its bar and restaurants.
While municipal liquor licenses are limited by population and historically expensive, the state can issue nontransferrable concessionaire permits to a vendor who has a contract to sell alcohol at publicly owned sites. Robert Cooper, president and CEO of Chefs International, said that permit is “as important as any part of the deal.”
“It’s an area that’s in need of redevelopment, and being able to take advantage of a state concessionaire’s permit has been really exciting for us,” he said.
Chefs International already is using a concessionaire permit at the outdoor, portable patio bar, 9th Ave Pier, it opened at the marina in July.
A spokesman for the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control said the agency has been in preliminary discussions with Chefs International about applying for an extension of its permit.
It’s a strategy the state has sought to use for other projects, too, including the former Xanadu project in East Rutherford, which has stalled but may be resurrected by a new developer. The state in 2008 issued a concessionaire’s permit for one of Xanadu’s would-be restaurants, drawing a legal challenge from other local establishments that ultimately failed.
The outcome of that case “brought clarity to the legal situation” of such permits, and they are “potentially a great economic development tool,” said William Harla, an attorney who represented Xanadu’s developer at the time. They’ve been underutilized, he said, noting that the economic downturn and a lack of awareness may contribute to that.
“Perhaps there just hasn’t been enough to tip the scale, but as the economy is getting better, I think these special concessionaire permits really do present a good incentive to perhaps get a project off the ground,” said Harla, a partner in in DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole’s Teaneck office. “It can make the difference in a lot of projects.”