ATLANTIC CITY — The demolition of a vacant motel that serves as a symbol of blight along the resort’s entrance has been put on hold after a developer interested in buying the property sued the city.
Deep Blue Development alleges in a lawsuit filed last month that the city improperly placed a lien on the shuttered Bayview Inn, the infamous Route 40 motel where authorities found an alligator during a drug raid in 2017.
Deep Blue Development and the company’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
The Hackensack-based group entered into a contract to purchase the property last May and claims the lien “adversely affected” their interest in buying the inn, which the city has long wanted to tear down.
“(Deep Blue) complied with the requests of (Atlantic City) and should be able to purchase the property,” the suit claims.
Since authorities raided the Albany Avenue motel two years ago, the boarded-up inn has sat vacant and deteriorating. Panels on the windows are covered in graffiti, and a fence around the property is almost entirely blown down. The city believes squatters have been breaking into the rooms.
Following the raid, the city’s Licensing and Inspections Department deemed the building unsafe and ordered it taken down. In December 2017, the city passed a resolution to place a $300,100 lien on the property, which is owned by SomDev Real Estate LLC.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved funding for the demolition, and bids went out.
But Deep Blue Development then expressed interest in the motel, and plans to raze it were put on hold.
The company contends it met with city officials to discuss repairs to the property. Deep Blue boarded up windows and doors, installed a fence around the building and removed asphalt and a trailer, the suit says.
But the North Jersey group stopped responding to calls from officials and never shared their plans for the property, said Licensing and Inspections Director Dale Finch.
The city began moving forward with demolition plans a second time.
“It’s on the gateway to the city. ... Everyone feels we just need to get the property to get cleaned up to the point that it’s not an eyesore,” Finch said. “We’re going to move forward with this one way or another.”
A contractor was hired to raze the inn last month for about $250,000, Finch said, and utilities inside the building were turned off. The tear-down is now on hold until the legal matter is resolved.
“We’ve been asking, ‘What’s the deal? What’s going to happen?’” Finch said. “And nothing. ... We had to pull the trigger after being very patient.”
The former Bayview Inn is one of several dilapidated motels that line the entrance to Atlantic City. For decades, local officials have been trying to tear down the eyesores, which attract drugs and crime.
Egg Harbor Township has recently taken a new approach to the problem by applying for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to demolish four inns along the West Atlantic City corridor into the city. The motels combined made $3.8 million in claims over the past 10 years due to flooding. If approved, the inns would be converted into green space.