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The two-story house at 8505 Landis Avenue dates to 1900.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

In recent years, a modest two-story home that is more than a century old has been the focus of a series of redevelopment plans.

Consideration has been given to possibly renovating the house to save it, tearing it down to build a new home or redeveloping the property for a mixed-use project combining commercial space and residential construction.

The owner finally seems to have made a decision. An application filed in August with the Sea Isle City Planning Board shows that the old house at 8505 Landis Ave. will be demolished to make room for a mixed-use development consisting of commercial space on the first floor and one residential unit on top.

The planning board is scheduled to consider the project at its Oct. 10 meeting. The developer, ENR Investments LLC of Swainton, is seeking preliminary and final site plan approval from the board.

Architectural drawings submitted with the application bluntly say that the “existing structure to be removed.” The city, however, has not yet issued a demolition permit for the old house, according to Sea Isle’s construction office.

Located in Sea Isle’s Townsends Inlet section, the house served as a private residence for more than 90 years after it was built in 1900. It was converted into an office for the former T.I. Realty company in 1992, but has remained vacant in recent years other than a construction company using it as a small office and storage space.

Architectural drawings for the proposed mixed-use project show that part of it would serve as the “O’Neill residence.”

There is a sign in the front window of the house for MJ Builders & Development Group, a Sea Isle-based company that specializes in residential construction. At last word, MJ Builders was owned by Michael O’Neill and his son, Brian.

The O’Neills could not be reached for comment Friday. In an interview in 2021, Michael O’Neill said MJ Builders owned the house and was planning to redevelop it at that time into a mixed-use project that would include office space for his company on the first floor and retail tenants on the second and third stories.

However, the new application filed in August with the planning board identifies Brian O’Neill and ENR Investments as the owner of the property.

Plans indicate that the new project will be three stories tall. Commercial space would occupy the first floor. The second and third stories would serve as the “O’Neill residence,” according to the architectural renderings.

Meanwhile, the old house remains vacant. A piece of construction machinery was parked in the side yard this week.

The house was built in Townsends Inlet just 18 years after Sea Isle’s formal founding as a beach resort by visionary real estate developer Charles K. Landis.

The 122-year-old house at 8505 Landis Ave. has a gray home next door from the same era.

Standing next door to the house at 8505 Landis Ave. is an old home at 8507 Landis Ave. that appears to be from the same era. Online real estate records indicate the house at 8507 Landis was built in 1897.

The gray house at 8507 Landis Ave. is not part of the mixed-use project at 8505 Landis Ave. that will be considered Oct. 10 by the planning board.

At one point, the former owner of the home at 8505 Landis Ave., Sea Isle real estate broker Jamie Sofroney, considered renovating the old house, but concluded it would have been too expensive to elevate it to comply with existing flood-protection regulations.

Sofroney then proposed building a new single-family home on the property, but withdrew that plan while appearing before Sea Isle’s zoning board in 2020. He did so after two board members began pointedly questioning the wisdom of building a new home in an area zoned for commercial development.

Later, Sofroney sold his interest in the house to Michael O’Neill for an undisclosed price. O’Neill has been in business in Sea Isle for about 40 years, including serving as the owner of MJ Builders & Development Group.

A piece of construction machinery is parked in the side yard of the old house.