By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
A Pennsylvania investment group plans to redevelop Sea Isle City’s landmark Springfield Inn nightclub into a restaurant, outdoor bar, banquet space and condominiums, newly filed documents revealed.
MEH Investments, of Flourtown, Pa., is seeking approval from the Sea Isle planning board for the project. The company is expected to make a presentation at the board’s Sept. 9 meeting, planning board secretary Genell Ferrilli said.
For more than a year, the beachfront property has been on the market for $6.7 million as part of a redevelopment plan that would see the Springfield’s existing building replaced with a three-story complex featuring a new restaurant, retail space, outdoor bar and 13 upscale condominiums.
MEH Investments recently revised the plans to reduce the number of condos to just four and has added a 290-seat banquet hall to the project, according to documents on file with the planning board.
In a nod to the Springfield Inn’s nearly 50-year history in Sea Isle, the buyers want to preserve the iconic name by retaining it when the property is redeveloped into a new bar and 148-seat restaurant, the documents indicate. They also plan to keep the name of the Springfield’s popular outdoor Carousel Bar.
“The property will be developed with a new Springfield Inn and Carousel Bar, with four residential units above,” MEH’s application with the planning board says.
Brian Halligan, owner and managing partner of MEH Investments, did not return calls seeking comment. Janet DeLorenzo, the real estate agent handling the sale, said MEH wants to wait until September to publicly outline its plans for redeveloping the Springfield.
DeLorenzo noted that the deal to sell the Springfield has not yet been finalized. No date has been announced for closing the Springfield to make way for construction of the redevelopment project.
Previously, MEH Investments was not known to be the Springfield’s developer. The company’s name was not made public until MEH recently filed its application with the planning board.
Halligan and two other investment partners would be part of the Springfield’s purchase. They would each own a 33.3 percent stake. The other partners are John Krinis, of Glenside, Pa., and Chris Myers, of Blue Bell, Pa., according to the planning board documents.
MEH’s website says the company’s investment portfolio includes commercial, residential and apartment projects in the Philadelphia area. Its strategy for commercial projects is to “look for distressed properties in well trafficked areas and repurpose them to fit the needs of the community,” according to the website.
In its current iteration, the Springfield Inn includes a nightclub and the outdoor Carousel Bar, a casual watering hole adjacent to the city’s oceanfront Promenade walkway. Popular with crowds that come right off the beach, the Springfield is known for its unadorned surroundings.
The no-frills Springfield has possessed a special allure for multiple generations of customers ever since it opened in 1972 under the ownership of the Bisciotti family.
Sisters Betsy Cooney, Terry Eidenberg and Joanne Bisciotti have followed their parents, Joe and Liz Bisciotti, as the Springfield’s owners. Eidenberg declined to comment on the sale.
The Springfield’s coveted beachfront location at 43rd Street and Pleasure Avenue makes it a strong candidate for redevelopment. It is the only beachfront business in Sea Isle that has a liquor license.
The Springfield is in line to be the latest local establishment to capitalize on a 2008 change in the city’s zoning law that allows businesses to rebuild commercial properties while adding more residential space.
The mixed-use projects include commercial establishments such as bars, restaurants and retail shops operating on the street level, while the top floors feature condos or apartments.
In the past three years, local developers Christopher Glancey and Bob Morris have built three projects combining commercial space with condos on top in Sea Isle’s Townsends Inlet section.
Glancey and Morris plan next to redevelop Sea Isle’s downtown landmark LaCosta Lounge into an upscale all-suite hotel, restaurant and outdoor bar. They purchased the LaCosta in 2018 for $7.3 million and are expected to seek redevelopment approvals this fall from the Sea Isle zoning board.
Separate from the LaCosta redevelopment plan, construction is underway on two projects in Sea Isle’s downtown business corridor on Landis Avenue, between 42nd and 44th streets, that will combine commercial space and condos.