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Archive for the ‘Historical Preservation Commission in Ocean Grove’ Category

Which way is the wind blowing regarding historic preservation in Ocean Grove? Paul Goldfinger photo © 2003.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

On January 24, local historian and advocate Kevin Chambers made a provocative comment while discussing the Aurora.  He said,

“Does the Aurora have any real history to it than the style in which it was built? No, it doesn’t, and since there are many other houses of the same style in OG, the loss of the Aurora would not effect the community than if it was truly unique to OG.”

Surely some of you saw his comment and would like him to explain it.  It seems to me that he is saying that we have two standards of “historic” regarding OG architecture: a truly historic structure and  an old building  that “doesn’t have any real history to it.”  The subtext is that it would even be OK to demolish the Aurora.

I can recall attending the 2013 hearing for demolition of the 134 year old Whitfield Hotel when a strong case was made that the old building was of no significance in terms of its architecture or its history in the Grove. Historians and other experts spoke and concluded that it had  “no style” and was a “useless mess.”  Citizens present agreed as did the HPC, so that old building was torn down to give way to four “reproductions” on crowded undersized lots .

Historical significance of the old Whitfield Hotel

Although we can’t exactly compare the Aurora to the Whitfield, clearly there are times when old structures should not be saved.

So is Kevin correct about the Aurora?  Should the new owner be permitted to demolish it and put up condominiums?  We already have heard about the idea of remodeling the Aurora and converting the building to 4 modern, luxury condo’s. And then there is the idea to demolish and put up single family homes. 

Wouldn’t it be great if one of those public servants who are on the Historic Preservation Commission had the courage to comment here and help educate the public about this subject, but don’t hold your breath.

So maybe some of you Grovers who are knowledgeable about historic preservation in our town would comment.

Jack Bredin did in 2016 when he wrote a letter to BF and said,   “A few months ago, at the public portion of a Committee Meeting, an attorney advised the Committee that ‘A historic district is a detriment to development.’ ”

 

BOB DYLAN   “The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

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Whitfield Hotel.  Blogfinger file photo c. 2013.  ©

Whitfield Hotel. Blogfinger file photo c. 2013. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

It was in the summer of 2013 that a hearing was held by the HPC to decide about demolishing a wreck of an unsavory 130 year old hotel in Ocean Grove. The Whitfield  sits on 4 lots at the intersections of Surf, Beach and Bath Avenues.    Testimony about the Whitfield Hotel, a 54 room residential facility, revealed that all criteria for demolition were met. In addition, experts testified that the property had no historic significance. After that hearing, Code Enforcement issued a demolition permit.   We wrote a detailed article about the history of the Whitfield and about that hearing (see link below). 

https://blogfinger.net/2013/08/30/the-hotel-whitfield-a-nightmare/

The neighbors were ecstatic to hear that the hotel would be torn down, hopefully to make way for four single family homes. Many called it a “seedy flea bag.” It was said to be a place where people who had criminal records lived.  Social agencies often sent offenders of various types to stay there for short periods, but sometimes those characters were sent back again and again.  The police were often called to the location.

The HPC hearing dealt with the demolition application, but it was not going to get involved with the fate of the tenants.  Some Blogfinger readers expressed concern about that. There are 37 comments there, and they make very interesting reading.  Here are two:

Doubting Thomas said,  “It is sad because of what it represents. Every derelict building represents the lives of people, and we should view tear-downs (as with the Sampler) from that perspective.

“And speaking of that perspective, where was the Home Owners Association special committee on derelict housing? Why weren’t they there offering an opinion? What exactly do they do besides not showing up for a demolition hearing?”

Wisher said,  “Most, I love the move-ahead, clear, and most-certainly Germanic tone of this post. It is as though no humans lived in the structure, and it is an abstract real estate construct. Maybe that is appropriate for New Jersey – dead communities. Spring Lake – dead, Deal – dead. Ocean Grove?”

After the Code Enforcement awarded the demolition permit, the tenants received assistance to find comparable affordable housing.  NJ law requires that tenants be given 18 months eviction notice, and that was done in March 2014.

So the demolition of the Whitfield cannot be implemented until at least September, 2015;  however the end is in sight.  After that, the owner will be able to develop the property, but condominiums will not be permitted.  Evidently only single family homes will be allowed to replace the Whitfield Hotel.

When that happens, the neighbors ought to have a block party, because their home values and quality of life should go up.

We hate to see authentic historic buildings torn down, but sometimes it is necessary, and Ocean Grove has lost many such buildings over the years due to fire and/or neglect. The idea is to solve the problem of derelict and deteriorating historic houses in town.  It is an uphill battle, but one that requires a team approach by those who care in Ocean Grove.

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III  (from Boardwalk Empire)

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