From their high-rise apartment off the Ventnor Boardwalk, Harvey and Rhoda Moskowitz have a perfect view of the ocean, and of the beachfront Monaco Motel next door.
But having the Monaco there makes their view less than perfect.
“We’ve been talking about that for the last year and a half,“ said Harvey Moskowitz, who splits time between homes in New York and Ventnor. “This was an eyesore. This is an eyesore.”
The Monaco has been closed for about five years. To the people who pass it on the Boardwalk — or who have it as their neighbor — it seems more dilapidated every day.
So when Harvey Moskowitz spotted new signs on the Boardwalk the other day about plans to demolish the Monaco and replace it with high-end townhouses — 27 of them, starting at $700,000 and running up to $1.2 million in a project the developers call The Waves — he was happy.
He isn’t the only one.
Lisa Savage, who owns two restaurants around the corner on Atlantic Avenue, said those new townhouse signs are a great sign for her area of Ventnor.
“It beats having that broken-down old motel there,” said Savage, who runs Sage and Lisa’s Italian Market. “That brings nothing to the neighborhood.”
Mayor Mike Bagnell says that when the developers asked to meet with him on a idea for getting rid of the Monaco, his first reaction was simple:
“Hallelujah,” Bagnell said Saturday. “Since that place has sat vacant, somebody was already injured falling into the empty pool.”
The Monaco is just four blocks from the Atlantic City line, “so when people are coming down the Boardwalk, it’s like, ‘Welcome to Ventnor?’ A crumbling motel and an empty pool?’” Bagnell added.
Ventnor’s Planning Board has started the process of changing the zoning in the area to help the project get the state environmental approvals it needs. The mayor said the City Commission has to then make those changes law, and he supports that plan because the developers can’t knock down the Monaco until they get their state permits.
Philadelphia Residential Development Co., based in that city, is planning the townhouse project, says Jerry Hamburg, one of the company’s principals. Hamburg has kept an eye on the Monaco himself for years — he and his partners all have summer places around Absecon Island — and the Philadelphia native says his roots go back 65 or more years on the Atlantic City/Ventnor Boardwalk.
“I walk past here all the time,” Hamburg said, “and you notice it’s an eyesore. It just begs for something interesting to be put on it.”
PRDC’s plans call for parking on the ground floor below all the townhouses, and the seven beachfront homes — the ones with the $1.2-million price tags — to rise four stories above the parking. All the beachfront places will come with floor-to-ceiling windows, including on the stairways. Ten more townhouses would run back on each side along Little Rock and Weymouth avenues, the borders of what’s now the 275-by-131-foot Monaco property.
Those units along the two side streets are also designed to all have views of the ocean, said Ashley Franchini, of Soleil Sotheby’s International Realty in Margate, the agent handling the project.
The average size for all the units would be about 2,500 square feet, said Franchini, who added “that’s larger than most single-family homes in Margate and Ventnor.”
Hamburg, the developer, says the plans aren’t all final — “This could be bigger, or that could be bigger,” he said, pointing at the current renderings. But whatever they do, Hamburg said they will keep all the townhouses as single properties, not as a condo project.
“The design is without a homeowners association, which is big for a lot of people,” he says.
On Saturday morning, The Waves’ signs were making a splash again on the Boardwalk as some weekend visitors discovered them for the first time.
“My first thought was, “Finally,’” said Glenn Manko, who splits time between Philadelphia and Margate, and who has passed the Monaco for years on his summer runs down the Boardwalk to Atlantic City.
Eloise Kaplan and her friend, Sharon Horowitz, who own summer houses a few blocks away from the motel in Ventnor, also stopped to check out the details as soon as they saw the signs.
“I’m very excited,” said Horowitz, whose main home is in Cherry Hill. “You see this place falling down.”
She said those announced prices could be “aggressive in this marketplace” for real estate.
“But I’m sure they’ll be very high end. And it is a beautiful view” — but one that, she says, could only improve with the Monaco out of it.
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