By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
The oh-so-familiar faded red truck that has become an unofficial landmark in the heart of Sea Isle City’s downtown business district will soon need a new place to park.
The prime piece of property that served as the truck’s exclusive parking spot in recent years is going to be redeveloped into a mixed-use project combining commercial space on the first floor and four condominiums on the top two stories.
The land at the corner of Landis Avenue and 42nd Street has been vacant ever since two stores that formerly occupied the site were destroyed by fire in 2016. Since then, the privately owned, weather-beaten red truck with the words “Sea Isle City” written on the side has occupied the property.
In a major step toward the property’s redevelopment, Sea Isle’s Planning Board is expected to vote Monday on the proposed mixed-use project that would dramatically transform the site.
“Sea Isle City is changing. It needs better curb appeal, and I’m on board with helping with that,” said James Burger, managing member of the 4118 Landis LLC development group that will build the project.
The development group takes its name from the address of the property, 4118 Landis Ave. Serving as Burger’s partners are Kevin Quinn and Sea Isle builder Louis Feola. Burger and Quinn are also partners in the Ocean View-based construction company Advanced Coastal Homes LLC.
In 2019, Advanced Coastal Homes was the builder of a mixed-used project on the opposite site of Landis Avenue and 42nd Street. That project, known as Beachside Villas, is a three-story complex featuring commercial space on the street level and 12 luxury condos on the top two floors.
Assuming that the planning board approves the project Monday, the other part of Landis and 42nd will be transformed with the next mixed-use project. Burger said his development team hopes to begin construction shortly after the summer tourism season and complete the project by late 2023.
Burger noted that the mixed-use development is the type of project that Sea Isle has been encouraging for the past 14 years. In 2008, the city changed its zoning laws to promote mixed-use construction as a way of retaining more business in town.
The 4118 Landis project will occupy the same site that once served as the location for the Avalon Coffee Shop and Jamaican Me Crazy clothing store. Both of those businesses were destroyed by a fire that broke out during a powerful winter storm in January 2016.
On the first floor of the project will be space for two commercial units. Coastview Cabinetry Studio, an existing Sea Isle business, will move into one of the spaces. The other commercial unit will face the corner and might be a good location for a restaurant, Burger said.
The top two floors will include four condos each containing 1,500 square feet of space. There will be a total of four parking spaces to meet the city’s requirements for the condos, Burger said.
Sea Isle’s tax office said 4118 Landis LLC became the owner of the property last year when it bought it from Jeff Di Cesare, a local painting contractor. Di Cesare, who reportedly owns the old red truck parked at the site, sold the land to 4118 Landis LLC for $350,000, according to real estate records.
Burger joked that Di Cesare’s faded red truck has become such a local landmark that “maybe we can bronze it.”
However, he emphasized that the truck will have to be moved from its parking spot to make room for construction of the new project.
“If someone would give me a forklift, I would gladly move it,” he said, laughing.