VENTNOR — City residents and real estate agents gathered in Fran Gelman’s multimillion-dollar beachfront home as Mayor Mike Bagnell stood in the living room leading a rallying cry for the city.

“When I was growing up as a kid, Ventnor was a community,” Bagnell said to the group gathered around him, including Ventnor resident and state Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic. “From Fredericksburg to Jackson Avenue, from the ocean to the bay, it was one community. That’s what I want again. We are Ventnorites. We are one.”

The purpose of the meeting at Gelman’s home in the city’s St. Leonard’s Tract section was to kick off a grass-roots campaign, “Value in Ventnor,” aimed at promoting the city’s economic growth. More specifically, it’s purpose was to prove that Ventnor is just

as good as, if not better than, its fellow Downbeach cities of Margate and Longport, according to the people who live there.

The campaign is being led by Gelman, an associate Realtor of Farley & Ferry Realty who said she is one of Ventnor’s biggest taxpayers. Farley & Ferry Realty, based in Ventnor, sponsored the event.

“We feel the city doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves,” Gelman said. “We have wide beaches and dunes that protected us from Sandy, home elevation can be higher than it can in Margate and Longport, and the mayor has an ear to the people and is working hand-in-hand with residents to allow them to them to build beautiful, secure homes. There’s no red tape. We want people to stay in Ventnor and to redevelop in Ventnor.”

Bagnell explained that the city will only get better, elaborating on his plans to:

* create a city-run tourism board;

* expand upon the city’s arts district, located within the 10-block section just south of Atlantic City known as North Beach; and

* make a recommendation to the city’s Planning Board to convert all commercially zoned areas into commercial mixed-use areas. That would allow for the development of more cafes with live music and theaters.

The mayor also mentioned The Waves development project, which features 27 million-dollar townhouses being built in the place of the old Monaco Motel at the Boardwalk and Little Rock Avenue, as well as the ongoing renovation of the old masonry structure between Victoria and Surrey avenues on Atlantic Avenue. He noted that a $30,000 grant recently awarded to the city through the Main Street Initiative Program is being used to hire a city planner to help redevelop the main business district.

“It’s important that all of our business districts be able to thrive, develop and build,” he said.

“Value in Ventnor” will host its next meeting around Memorial Day, and this time will invite potential homebuyers as well, Gelman said. Information will be posted at

Contact Elisa Lala:

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