By SUE MORGAN
Maybe some day Tapestry International, a creator of original programming for the likes of MTV and Animal Planet, will make a documentary about Sea Bright’s long search for a new, state-of-the-art town hall.
Meantime, the borough council has to figure out whether or not Sea Bright could afford and would benefit from buying the building that is home to Tapestry’s television production studios at 3 Church Street as a new base of municipal operations.
On learning that the privately-owned, three-story, red brick building had hit the market, the town’s Smart Growth Committee decided to explore its possible use as a new municipal center, according to Councilman Brian Kelly. He heads the committee, a borough-endorsed group, that’s charged with leading the town’s evolving revitalization.
But the costs of buying and renovating the structure, if necessary, could be the deal breaker, said Kelly. Parking on the narrow, dead-end street is also a concern, he acknowledged.
The building is listed for $1.2 million. Monmouth County tax records indicate that it’s owned by Sea Bright Properties LLC and assessed at $464,800.
A real estate broker familiar with the property tells redbankgreen it features “a nice little garden in the back and a little workout room, too.”
The committee would have to evaluate the feasibility of transforming the interior at 3 Church Street to make it functional as a municipal center, Kelly said.
“We have to carry out our due diligence,” he said.
Those costs, once obtained, would be compared to the costs of two other options under consideration. One is to renovate the existing borough hall at 1167 Ocean Avenue. The second calls for constructing an entirely new building in the parking lot of the current facility.
By Sept. 25, the date of the next scheduled public meeting on the planned revitalization, the committee hopes to have its facts and figures and cost comparisons ready for presentation, Kelly said.
The idea of moving borough facilities to Church Street is just that, albeit another option under consideration by the Smart Growth Committee, Kelly noted.
This is not the first time borough officials have talked about moving northward up on Ocean Avenue. In 2006, they proposed constructing a new municipal building in the former Peninsula House parking lot, now used as a municipal lot to allow public beach access.
However, that idea went south earlier this year, when the council decided to follow the advice of its revitalization consultant, Design Ideas Group, to use the P-House lot for recreation and beach access. A a municipally-owned and operated pool, playground, skatepark and boardwalk are envisioned on the site, as well as public parking.
The borough’s revitalization plan, also dubbed the “Smart Growth Plan” has been discussed in public meetings and community workshops for more than three years.