New Jersey Boardwalk Slow to Recover After Fire

September 17, 2014

Rebuilding is slow one year after a fire devoured more than four blocks of boardwalk and destroyed more than 50 businesses in two New Jersey shore towns.

The boardwalk that was lost on Sept. 12, 2013, has been rebuilt between Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. But the Seaside Park section remains mostly vacant of the businesses that once served residents and tourists alike.

Investigators determined the boardwalk fire started in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The private corporation that owns that section of boardwalk is composed of 18 business partners that must agree on a reconstruction plan, Berkeley Sweet Shop owner Berent Hage told the Asbury Park Press Friday. Then there is the cost because of new storm-related federal guidelines that seek to mitigate catastrophic damage.

“Mostly, the price of things has just gotten totally out of whack,” Hage said. “If something cost you $2 million to build before, now it’s $41/2 to $51/2 million for the same thing. You can understand why they’re hesitant.”

Hage said the rent might be too high for most boardwalk business owners.

Hage reopened his store in a temporary stand during the summer, but he will have to take the stand down by Oct. 15. He hopes to be back.

“I’m a survivor,” he said.

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