Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is Mayor Mahaney Prepared to Let Beach Theatre Property Continue to Fester for Years?

An Embarrassment to the City (photo taken July 27, 2012)

A Closer Look at Embarrassing Beach Theatre (7/27/12)

Jack Fichter, Cape May reporter par excellence, reports that former Cape May Mayor Jerry Gaffney has suggested using eminent domain to obtain the Beach Theater property. Although my initial instinct is to think that this idea is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse escapes (in light of the fact that the owners of the building demolished the theatre portion of the building many moons ago), it still is an interesting idea worth exploring. I hope we hear something from the Beach Theatre Foundation as to where it stands on this proposal.

I will say this. Having taken a close look at the property this summer, it is clear that the present owner has no interest in the property and won't have interest if and until the real estate market bounces back.  The front of the building looks hideous and is an embarrassment to the city. I find it curious that the City did not require the property owner to make the property presentable as part of last year's settlement of the litigation regarding the property (if there was such a requirement as part of the settlement, then I wonder what the enforcement mechanism is. Right now, there appears to be no evidence that the City made this a part of the settlement, in that the property owner did little to clean the property up either leading up to the opening of the new Convention Hall, or even during the summer season (which has now since passed), and the City has taken no apparent steps to enforce such a requirement).

There is little if any evidence that the real estate market will bounce back anytime soon.  It could be years before the market reaches a level that the current owner thinks makes the property worthy of re-development.

Mayor Mahaney
Is the City Prepared to let the Beach Theatre property continue to fester for years as an eyesore across the street from its crown jewel Convention Hall without doing anything about it? Is the Current Mayor prepared to let the Beach Theatre property continue to fester? I find that hard to believe.  I believe he has the best interests of Cape May at heart. He has a right to brag about bringing in the new Convention Hall on time and on budget. But that accomplishment suffers both literally and figuratively because of the eyesore across the street. Literally because the Theatre significantly hurts the look of the boardwalk/promenade area, regardless of how brand-spanking-new the Convention Hall looks. And figuratively because cleaning up that area should have been part and parcel of opening the new Convention Hall, and some might say that his failure to do so as Mayor detracts from what is otherwise a creditable accomplishment.

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