Scarborough Properties gets a lot of notice when it’s developing very large commercial or institutional projects along the Jersey shore, such as the Shore Medical Center expansion and the Charter Tech school in Somers Point, and the ShopRite plaza in Upper Township.
The family-owned business might be just as active in the absence of such ultra-high-profile work, with several current projects from Cape May to Manahawkin and several others in the planning stages.
Sean Scarborough, of Ocean City, owns the company with his brothers, Chris and Todd.
“We’re pretty vast in what we do,” Sean Scarborough said recently. “We cover all aspects of development from retail housing to very intensive institutional work like the Shore Medical Center expansion, a $125 million development that encompassed the better part of 10 years for our company. That came in on time and under budget, which we’re really proud of.”
The diversity in commercial development alone in the region is extraordinary: Wawa stores, Burger King restaurants, CVS stores, a Sonic, a Fox Chase Bank, a Home Depot and several other prominent brands and buildings.
Scarborough said the developer typically retains ownership of its commercial projects through about 40 limited liability companies, with the brothers’ shares in them “depending on who’s working on what.”
It uses many contractors for its projects, he said, many with decades of experience working with Scarborough. For example, Jasticon Inc., a family business in Medford, has done concrete work for the Scarboroughs for 50 years, and Broadley’s MDI in Marmora, Upper Township, has done plumbing work for the firm for 25 years.
The history of the family business, started by grandfather Robert K. Scarborough right after World War II, steered the company’s residential projects into waterfront development starting in the 1970s.
“My grandfather was a B-17 pilot who flew a couple dozen missions, crashed, lived, and came back and built his own house in Collingswood,” Sean Scarborough said.
That led to a homebuilding business, which expanded greatly with the help of his son, R. Randall Scarborough, the father of the three brothers.
In 1975, the family sold the residential development business to Weyerhaeuser and concentrated on commercial projects, Sean Scarborough said. His father’s “non-compete clause said he could build housing at the Jersey Shore as long as it was tied to marinas.”
For a family with sand in its shoes, that proved a large opportunity.
“We think we understand waterfront development pretty well. We fish, sail, surf and we grew up with it. We know how to create community at the shore,” he said.
The company’s latest such project is Spicer’s Creek at Cape May Marina, which combines 37 single-family homes with 210 marina slips for boats 20 to 70 feet long.
A previous developer had plans approved for condos and built eight of them, but only sold one when the real estate market slumped, Scarborough said. The eight condos are being converted to fee-simple ownership.
Several home designs are available for the 31 lots, all customizable, or buyers can build their own home with their own builder.
Scarborough said homebuilder Schaeffer Family Homes has bought one site and optioned five more.
Up in Somers Point, the company this year finished a new headquarters for Shore Orthopaedic University Associates on MacArthur Boulevard.
Nearby at Shore Medical Center, where Scarborough Properties also built the Cancer Center, the firm completed internist and pediatric offices within the center that opened a month ago, he said.
On New Road, at the Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts, the company is working on an 8,700-square-foot classroom expansion that should be completed in about a month, he said.
In the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, Scarborough Properties already has developed a BJ’s Wholesale Club, a Chase Bank and a Sonic restaurant. He said a couple more pending deals will round out the retail development.
“We also have land and apartments to develop there,” Scarborough said. “We’re looking to get started in late 2014.”
Scarborough Properties has stayed busy during a severe slump in the commercial construction industry.
From 1,014 establishments in New Jersey involved in commercial building construction in 2006, the industry was trimmed to 904 such businesses by 2012, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.
The toll on the work force was greater, with commercial building employees in New Jersey dropping from 11,199 to 8,660 in 2012. That cut total wages from $807 million in 2006 to $695 million.
Scarborough Properties is also looking forward to a project in the Gardner’s Basin section of Atlantic City, where since the 1970s it has owned nearly 4 acres on Gardner’s Point across from the Atlantic City Aquarium.
“That’s approved for eight single-family lots, but we may have the opportunity to do an institutional use on that property, which would be fantastic,” he said.
He said the firm has met with Mayor Don Guardian a couple of times and “clearly he wants to see positive things happen. We’re excited.”
At Harbour Cove Marina in Somers Point, the 400-slip residential and commercial property developed by the late R. Randle Scarborough, the firm is building a boat sales center and shop for Island Marine, which is headquartered in Ocean View, Dennis Township.
“We hope to be swinging hammers this summer, and have them in place by fall,” Sean Scarborough said.
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