The Mansard roof and lavender trim are some of the eye-catching features of the 122-year-old house on 42nd Street. (Photo courtesy of


This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a shore town where home prices typically are going for more than $1 million.

One house in Sea Isle City may be offered for just $1. But there is a catch, of course.

Lawrence Lane and his wife, Darlene, are planning to demolish their Victorian-era home at 30 42nd Street to create room for a mixed-use project combining commercial space on the ground level and two large condominiums on the top three stories.

They had hoped to win formal approval for their proposed development from Sea Isle’s Planning Board on July 11. However, they are now in the process of tweaking the project and must return to the board at a later date, perhaps at either the August or September meeting.

“I’m going to alter the plans to make it smaller. I’m making some modifications,” Lawrence Lane said of the project in an interview Wednesday.

Although Lane is still planning to demolish his 122-year-old home to make room for the proposed mixed-use project, he raised the possibility that the old house might be saved after all.

But not by him – by someone else who might buy the three-story house from him for a minimal price, perhaps $1, and then take on the expense of moving it elsewhere.

“I suppose if anyone wanted to move it, I would be more than happy to consider it,” Lane said.

He pointed out that moving such an old and large house would be an expensive undertaking if someone decided to do it.

Lane doesn’t know much about the house’s history. He explained that he tried to research the history by examining the property deeds, but found that some of them were so old that they were handwritten and difficult to read.

An architectural rendering that is part of the Sea Isle City Planning Board documents depicts the proposed mixed-use project.

Dating to 1900, the stately white house features a number of notable architectural embellishments, including its French-inspired Mansard roof.

The improvements Lane has made over the years included painting the front stairs, railings, front door and window trim in a distinctive lavender color scheme.

He and his wife have owned the house since 2003 and use it as a summer rental property. Lane said he has put a lot of work into the home over the years, but that its sheer age and old-style construction make it difficult to maintain.

He also noted that the walls crack in the heat of summer and extreme cold in winter. Since it is used as a summer rental home, it has no heat.

Although it is a residential structure, the home is located within Sea Isle’s General Business District in the center of downtown, according to planning board documents. A project featuring a commercial component would be allowed where the home currently stands.

The proposed project represents the type of development that has become popular in Sea Isle ever since the city changed its zoning laws in 2008 to encourage mixed-use construction.

In recent years, a number of old homes have been demolished to make way for mixed-use projects combining commercial space such as restaurants and retail shops on the first floor with condos on the top two stories.

As part of their planning board application, the Lanes filed for eight zoning variances to build their project. The variances included developing the project on an undersized lot, exceeding the city’s height limit of three stories by building a fourth floor and adding 10 spaces of stacked parking. Stacked parking is prohibited in Sea Isle, according to a report by the planning board’s engineer.

But Lawrence Lane said the project is now in the hands of his architect for some changes, including making it smaller.

An employee in Sea Isle’s construction office said Lane will need to come back to the planning board to seek approval for the project.

Exactly when the old house would be demolished and construction would begin on the new project remain unclear at this point, Lane said.

Even if the house is torn down, Lane said there are some features he hopes to save, including some decorative pieces incorporated above the windows in the sloped Mansard roof.

He said he has also made attempts to salvage the fireplace. He offered the fireplace to the Sea Isle City Historical Museum, but was told there is no room for it. Separately, the city declined his offer to donate the fireplace for Sea Isle’s proposed $20 million community recreation center, he said.