EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Four motels along the Black Horse Pike in the West Atlantic City section will be bought, demolished and turned into open space with a $2.45 million federal grant intended to mitigate flooding, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker said Tuesday.

The owners of the Bay Point Inn, Hi-Ho Motel, Destiny Inn and Budget Motel have agreed to sell to the township for the properties’ assessed values, Township Administrator Peter Miller said.

About $2 million of the grant is for purchase, while the other $454,000 is for demolition, engineering and legal costs.

The area has long been criticized as blighted, hampering the reputation of one of three main entryways to Atlantic City.

The land on each side of the road is narrow and surrounded by wetlands, so the road floods during many high tides that coincide with full moons, and during heavy rainfall.

The state is working on a plan to raise a one-mile stretch of the road 2.5 feet, but that would not address property flooding. That project is expected to start in 2021, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant is for removing structures that have had repetitive flood insurance losses greater than the value of the properties, Miller said.

The four motels have had a total of 56 flooding claims that paid out $3.8 million over the past 10 years, and experts have predicted that flooding dangers will only increase over time.

This project and the 2015 demolition of six other blighted motels will leave the township with just two motels along the stretch of Route 40 that leads into Atlantic City from the mainland, Miller said.

He said the township is committed to removing all vestiges of the motels, including parking lots and cement pads.

“Our application was to remove everything and preserving the land as open space, with no future buildings,” Miller said.

The 2015 demolition used $3 million from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. One of the motels in that project, the Golden Key, was dubbed the “motel from hell” after four women were found murdered behind it nearly 14 years ago. The killings made national headlines.

On the 2015 properties, the cement pads were left to preserve the right to build on them, Miller said. Now, the township is considering turning all of the properties over to open space for a greenway along the highway.

The Economy Inn has refused to sell to the township, so it will be left in the middle of the empty properties, Miller said.

And while the Sea Breeze motel, located in a higher section of West Atlantic City, agreed to sell to the city, it did not qualify for the grant because it has not had the necessary repetitive losses.

“Storms like Superstorm Sandy have wreaked havoc on the flood-prone areas of our state, and we need to ensure that we are prepared when the next storm hits,” Menendez said in a news release. “This federal funding will help with the robust mitigation and resiliency project that the township has planned, and it will help enhance the gateway into Atlantic City.”

“Many New Jerseyans face repeated threats to their land and property as a result of flooding,” Booker said. “These federal resources will ensure that Egg Harbor Township is better prepared for the dangers posed by repeating flood events and help limit the damage they cause.”

Last year, Menendez introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2019. Menendez said the bill “tackles systemic problems with flood insurance, puts it back on solid fiscal ground and reframes the nation’s entire disaster paradigm to one that focuses more on prevention and mitigation to spare the high cost of rebuilding after flood disasters.”

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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