One might think a real estate association headquarters would rank among the top properties in an area, considering the work of those it serves. Such thinking would have been wrong in regard to the Cape May County Association of Realtors.

Cramped quarters and a poor layout until recently left the group with a subpar facility — but no longer. On April 3, the group will celebrate the grand opening of its bigger, better headquarters in Swainton, Middle Township.

“It’s much better than we could have imagined,” said Executive Officer Ann Marie Uhlman. “Really, it is.”

While the group had several reasons to upgrade, the biggest factor was a lack of space. The previous facility, located in Clermont in Dennis Township, had enough room for administrative staff but lacked a suitable area in which the group could hold state-mandated continuing education classes. As such, the group was forced to rent rooms at other facilities when they needed to hold a class.

Last year the association formed a committee made of its past presidents to address its needs. At first the committee looked to renovate, but at nearly $500,000 it proved cost-prohibitive. When committee member Bill Hand pointed to the vacant former home of restaurant Chef Ted’s, they found the space perfect.

The building was designed by Paul Rixon with input from his fellow committee members Uhlman, Hand, Brian Groetsch, Matt Iannone, Chris Clemans and Allan Dechert.

The group closed on the Swainton property late last summer and began renovating shortly thereafter. The restaurant’s floors were torn up and replaced with hardwood, its kitchen was dismantled and made into offices, and its dining room was repurposed as a classroom. It fits 80 people, quadruple that of the previous space.

The renovations, which totaled about $200,000, were completed in December. Once the group sells its previous building, which is listed at $325,000, it will likely have spent far less than what renovating the former building would have cost.

The new facility boasts about 300 more square feet than the previous one, at 3,500. It’s a bigger jump than the numbers suggest, since much of the previous location’s footprint was inflated by largely unusable space on the second floor. Plus, its location — just south of Garden State Parkway Exit 13 on Route 9 — is ideal.

“It gives us a location just off the parkway,” said Groetsch, of ReMax At The Shore. “Not that Clermont was that much farther, but being right in the middle of the county, right off the parkway — it was important for the membership.”

The group has been operating out of its new headquarters since shortly after construction finished and recently began offering its classes.

So far, the new facility has drawn rave reviews — and not just from members. Last week, well-traveled realty expert Diane Disbrow visited for a seminar and praised the facility as among the best she’s seen.

“She just went crazy, saying in the state this is probably one of the nicest buildings the Board of Realtors has,” said Rixon, of Rixon Realty. “Everybody’s pretty happy about it.”

The grand opening will be held 2 p.m. April 3. The office is located at 1526 Route 9 North in Swainton.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.