PHOTOS: Seaside Heights’ steel skeleton is on its way out (Opinion)
If you’ve been in Seaside Heights anywhere off the boardwalk itself since the mid-2000’s you’ve seen it. A huge (and now rusting), long-forgotten steel frame.
It has sat since then, bare to the elements. It stands like some barely-hanging on sentinel on Ocean Boulevard between Hamilton and Webster.
Monday morning marked the start of demolition on the structure, a project not only unrealized but of a different era altogether. We have additional photos of the demolition below.
If you’re like me you’ve passed it and wondered when will that ever be finished? What is it, or was it, going to be?
Here’s the back story:
Vincent Craparotta already owns Hemingway’s Cafe up the same boulevard. That’s a casual yet nice place with great food and nightlife. Back when George W. Bush was still president, Craparotta wanted to open what they call a mix-use structure; a combination of commercial and residential.
Once the project began, what became known as The Great Recession hit in late 2008 and into 2009 just as Obama was becoming president. It changed everything.
The project ground to a halt. All work stopped. It lingered. It has stood like a stopped clock all this time.
Back in 2008 Seaside Heights was already known as a party town and seemed the ideal location for MTV’s “Jersey Shore” to film. The series brought an even worse reputation to the Ocean County community. If part of Craparotta’s plans for the commercial aspect of the site were another club the township surely wouldn’t have wanted it.
They began working in the years since to change the vibe of the town to something more family friendly and less GTL. NJ.com ran a piece on the township being on the brink of approval to finalize redevelopment plans and knock down this nearly decade-and-a-half old steel skeleton.
According to Mayor Anthony Vaz, a "five-minute meeting" Monday morning cleared the path for demolition of the "eyesore."
"I think this is going to be a rebirth of the Boulevard," Vaz told New Jersey 101.5's Dino Flammia.
Work beyond demolition is expected to begin as soon as possible, Vaz said. Condos, a restaurant and retail space are coming to the site.
It stood out like an awkward sore thumb but in a dumb way, I will kind of miss it. As someone who only hits Seaside Heights once or maybe twice a year at best, it gave you some bearings when trying to find your way around town. You always knew Grant was just over three blocks north and Lincoln just over two blocks south. Dumb reason to miss an eyesore? You’re absolutely right.
Maybe there’s another reason.
From the time I was a kid, Seaside Heights was my family’s go-to shore town. I remember when Sodl’s restaurant was there with their big swordfish on the wall and the best ice cream waffle sandwiches you could dream of. Gone now. I remember the Jet Star, that iconic green rollercoaster that wound up washed out to see by Sandy. I remember other rides come and gone. The huge boardwalk fire of 2013 that brought more changes.
So maybe it’s just one more thing I got used to that I’ll oddly miss, even if it was an eyesore.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.