Atlantic City’s long drought in home development ended this month as work began on a dozen ultra-luxury oceanfront townhouses.
The Breakers at Atlantic City, a gated community of $1.5 million homes on the Boardwalk between Annapolis and Richmond avenues, is the city’s first private development of homes in more than a decade.
The 3,000-square-foot homes, with another 700 square feet of outdoor deck space, will enter the market at the top — each with a private elevator, multiple fireplaces including in the master bath, and huge oceanfront decks.
The developer is Joseph Zarrelli, 62, of Marlboro Township in Monmouth County.
A third-generation builder, Zarrelli said previous projects have included “dozens of multimillion-dollar homes in Colts Neck” (Monmouth County), a midrise multifamily project in Brooklyn, and the Hilton Hotel and a corporate park on Staten Island.
Zarrelli said his feeling that Atlantic City has a strong future brought him to the city several years ago to look at properties. He found the 3-acre oceanfront site and brought down his three partners from Monmouth County: John DelMonaco, of Middletown Township, “my mentor, a financial and real estate genius”; Warren Diamond, of Rumson, “a strategist, and like all the partners very bright”; and John Mercadante, an attorney from Little Silver.
The property was quickly purchased from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Zarrelli said, and plans for it were formed. But the partnership took its time, thought carefully about the project, and revised it substantially to create the Breakers at Atlantic City.
Paula Hartman, the Margate Realtor in charge of marketing the community, said the developers were attentive “to what actually sells” in the shore luxury market.
Water views are just the start. “I told him people want outdoor space and the shore, and he really thought it out,” said Hartman, who leads the Hartman Home Team of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach in Margate.
So the townhouses will be built duplex-style and open on three sides, with private side yards and “tons of light coming into each unit,” Zarrelli said.
“They’re doing everything right,” Hartman said. “They’ve got private driveways, beautiful views the way they’re staggered, two-car garages and pets are allowed.”
The lots are 100 feet deep, so buyers can elect to have a private swimming pool without needing a variance, Zarrelli said.
Besides a large deck off the master suite, each townhouse has a rooftop deck with “all glass railings so I don’t obstruct any of the views of the ocean,” he said.
Hartman said another example of attention to detail are automatic awnings that shut themselves when the wind gets too high.
The building’s foundation, which seldom gets much consideration from potential buyers, has been substantially upgraded.
“In this location, the foundation could have been cement block, but we poured concrete because it’s much stronger,” Zarrelli said.
To a stronger-than-usual grade of concrete, nylon fibers were added to make it stronger still. Then the size of the reinforcing rebar was increased, and it was epoxy coated so it will never rust ... “just like on highway projects,” he said.
Zarrelli said homes only have to be 1 foot above the base flood elevation at site, but are being built 2 feet above the elevation. “During Hurricane Sandy, we had no water on the property.”
He said city officials and local organizations have been helpful, especially the Metropolitan Business and Citizens Association.
“The city has been nothing but great,” Zarrelli said. “Mayor (Lorenzo) Langford has gone out of his way to help us, and the city building department has been good.”
The townhouses come with a tax abatement that diminishes over five years.
He said that if the winter weather is decent for construction, the first unit should be built and ready for delivery in April or May.
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