By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City is getting an upscale, resort-style hotel as part of a sweeping transformation planned for one of the most prominent locations in the downtown business district.
Altogether, The Ludlam Hotel will include 58 rooms when the project is completed by the summer of 2023 on the site of the former LaCosta Lounge nightclub and the old Coast Motel.
Two new restaurants, an indoor-outdoor bar, a rooftop bar and a swimming pool will be among new attractions complementing the hotel at the corner of John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Landis Avenue.
A fourth floor will also be added to the existing building for six new hotel suites, according to documents filed with the Sea Isle City Planning Board by the project’s ownership and development group, 42nd Place LLC.
Culminating a three-hour meeting Monday night, the planning board unanimously granted preliminary and final site plan approval for the hotel complex as well as the variances needed for the project.
The Ludlam represents the next generation of development for the high-profile location, the main entryway to the downtown district.
“The statement we want to make is that we will welcome people to Sea Isle and this hotel will be a cornerstone of the town,” Christopher Glancey, an owner of the development group, said in an interview after the meeting.
The project will be built on the same spot where some of Sea Isle’s most historic businesses once stood, including the former Bellevue Hotel and Cronecker’s Hotel & Restaurant dating to the late 1800s. The LaCosta Lounge followed in the 1970s and became one of the best-known nightclubs at the Jersey Shore.
Glancey and his business partner, Bob Morris, bought the LaCosta in 2018 for $7.3 million and launched plans to demolish the old bar to make room for an all-suite hotel on the site. They later backed off from that project and revised their plans.
Now, the plan is to renovate and expand the old LaCosta complex and the former Coast Motel as part of their rebranding into The Ludlam Hotel.
“What we’re proposing is a complete transformation of the property,” Mark Petrella, the architect for the project, told the planning board.
The first phase of the project includes a full makeover for 24 rooms in the three-story building that formerly housed the Coast Motel. The renovations are scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the bustling summer tourism season.
“Our hope is to bring the guests of Sea Isle City the best shore experience possible by continuing the revitalization of the iconic corner of Landis & JFK,” the ownership group said in a statement.
After the 2022 summer season, the hotel will close in September to accommodate the full-scale redevelopment of the property, including a new tower that will be added to The Ludlam.
The restaurants, outdoor/indoor bar, rooftop bar and swimming pool will all be part of the property’s redevelopment scheduled for completion in 2023. There will be a total of 61 parking spaces for the complex, three more than what are required for the project under Sea Isle’s planning regulations.
One of the attractions will be the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse Bar, named in honor of the historic Ludlam Beach Lighthouse that stood in Sea Isle for decades before it was demolished in 2010. The lighthouse bar will have a replica beacon on top of it as a decorative feature.
When completed in 2023, The Ludlam complex will feature a splashy, shore-like blue and white color scheme to replace the dingy brownish tones that formerly dominated the old buildings on the site.
The developers also want to give the hotel complex an inviting, eye-catching appearance with a lavish landscaping plan that will include evergreen trees, shrubbery, ornamental native grass, flowers and decorative planters ringing the property. In all, there will be 1,000 plantings.
“This is going to be something different for Sea Isle. It’s going to be a movement toward green infrastructure,” Jay Adamson, the project’s landscape architect, told the planning board.
The planning board voted 6-0 to approve the project after listening to a detailed presentation from Glancey’s professional team. Only two members of the public spoke during the meeting and both expressed their support for The Ludlam.
One of them, John Fee, a local realtor and member of the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce, predicted that the project will be a catalyst for business growth throughout town.
“It would be a boom to the business community to have a project like this,” Fee said.
Patricia Urbaczewski, the planning board’s chairwoman, said The Ludlam will help to fill Sea Isle’s need for more hotel rooms to accommodate the beach resort’s tourism industry.
“I think we need hotel rooms for our guests,” Urbaczewski said.
All along, Glancey has emphasized that the hotel reflects the demand for higher-end lodging in Sea Isle.
“It’s a hotel first and a bar and a restaurant second,” Glancey told the planning board.