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Morrisons Site Eyed For RestaurantHotel Complex
A restaurant and a 102-room hotel could be in the works for the site of Morrison’s Restaurant, which has been vacant since a fire destroyed the Beach Haven eatery in 2005.
During a borough council agenda meeting on Oct. 4, developer Christopher Vernon said he wanted opportunities to introduce himself to the community. He gave an overview of his company, Mercer Management, and other area projects the company has done. Vernon is the developer and owner of the Bonnet Island Estate, the Mallard Island Yacht Club, the Mainland/Holiday Inn complex and Hotel LBI, currently under construction in Ship Bottom at the former site of the Stateroom and, before that, the Quarterdeck Inn.
“The project focus is create a family friendly waterfront destination for Beach Haven and Long Beach Island,” he said. “Our plan is purely conceptual at this point, and we are looking to meet with neighbors for public review. I am happy to meet with anyone that has questions or concerns about the project and would like to thank everyone for their support.”
He said Morrison’s is an “iconic spot.”
“As a kid, I used to spend summers in Holgate so I guess you could say I’m an Island guy,” said Vernon. “I know how important it is to have the Morrison’s site alive again.”
Concerning conceptual project details, he said the boat slips, fuel and services will all remain at the marina, which has continued to operate after the fire.
“We will be leasing the slips as Morrison’s has done in the past,” he said. “We hope to add some shared amenities for the marina guests and hotel guests. The marina and hotel will have 24-hour security.”
He said the hotel would have a guest shuttle for the beach and activities in the area, and will also have guest parking on the grade level of the hotel.
Vernon said he has obtained state permits to rebuild the restaurant, which will be constructed in “the original footprint” of Morrison’s.
“I have not come up with a name yet for it,” he said.
He said that on the north bulkhead, he is planning to add a wharf bar and public access for fishing, crabbing, and sunset watching.
“Along the bulkhead of the restaurant we plan on a public access walk as well,” he said. “Our goal is to make the site walk friendly, bike friendly, and options for dock and dine guests.”
“He has a great vision for this property," said Janine Kleber, whose family owns the establishment. “It’s a phenomenal plan.”
Kleber said Morrison’s at one time received land use board permission to rebuild, but it was not financially feasible.
“Then (Superstorm) Sandy came and that was the icing on the cake,” she said.
Vernon said the design of the hotel/restaurant has not been decided, although he said the complex would not exceed the zoning ordinance height limit of 35 feet. He offered no timetable for when he would bring the project to the land use board, or any plans on when he hoped to begin construction and open.
“Right now, I’m concentrating on reaching out to the community,” he said.
“We really appreciate the fact that you are seeking community input, instead of just coming in and saying ‘here it is,’” said resident Colleen Lambert, one of about 100 at the meeting.
Common development issues such as drainage and traffic flow were raised by various residents.
“I have a number of professionals who will be looking into these matters,” said Vernon.
He said anyone with questions can email him at [email protected].
Article courtesy of The SandPaper and— Eric Englund
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