An architectural rendering depicts the outdoor bar and dining project that will replace the Springfield Inn. (Courtesy of GMH Restaurant Holdings)


The old Springfield Inn will be replaced by The Point.

The buyer of the now-closed Springfield Inn is planning an upscale transformation of the beachfront property that would be nothing like the no-frills shore bar and nightclub that occupied the site for nearly 50 years.

GMH Restaurant Holdings III announced that it has filed plans with Sea Isle City to begin the process of redeveloping the Springfield site into an open-air bar and “family-friendly dining experience” that would be ready in time for the 2021 summer season.

“Once complete, The Point Sea Isle will provide locals and tourists alike a new, upscale summer establishment to enjoy with friends and family. Our redevelopment plans include an open-air concept with high-quality landscaping that will serve as an exceptional dining and entertainment experience,” GMH founder Gary Holloway said in a statement.

Holloway first revealed in October that his company was buying the Springfield Inn and would demolish the old building to make room for a new project.

In his newly released statement, Holloway gives more details of the redevelopment plan. GMH also released an architectural rendering of the project that depicts a series of smaller pavilion-like structures along with a larger building for dining.

“GMH Restaurant Holdings III filed its plans this week to revitalize the former Springfield site to bring to Sea Isle a unique, first-class, casual, family-friendly dining establishment featuring a relaxing island beach setting and peaceful live entertainment,” Holloway said.

Holloway noted that the Sea Isle project will be modeled after a similar beach-themed outdoor bar in Somers Point, also known as The Point.

“These plans closely draw inspiration from our highly successful venue, The Point in Somers Point, N.J.,” he said in the statement. “We look forward to working closely with the community, neighbors, and the city to obtain approvals and begin what is certain to be an exciting and welcome transformation of the former Springfield site. The plan is to be open for business by May, 2021.”

The Point, the outdoor bayfront bar in Somers Point, will serve as the model for the Sea Isle project. (Courtesy of GMH Restaurant Holdings)

The Springfield Inn has been on the market for $6.7 million. Its coveted beachfront location makes it a strong candidate for redevelopment. Located at 43rd Street and Pleasure Avenue, it is the only beachfront business in Sea Isle that has a liquor license.

It is not immediately clear how much Holloway is paying or whether he has completed the purchase yet. When he first disclosed his plans to buy the property during remarks at a City Council teleconference meeting on Oct. 27, he said he had reached “an exclusive letter of intent” to acquire the Springfield from the current owners.

The Bisciotti family has owned the Springfield Inn since it opened in 1972. Sisters Betsy Cooney, Terry Eidenberg and Joanne Bisciotti followed their parents, Joe and Liz Bisciotti, as the Springfield’s owners.

Known for its shabby chic interior, the Springfield possessed a special allure for legions of casually dressed customers. The Springfield included a nightclub and the outdoor Carousel Bar, a popular spot for crowds that would come right off the beach.

Holloway, a resident of Ocean City for 50 years, said he is intimately familiar with the Jersey Shore’s bar and restaurant scene. He operated the Waterfront Restaurant in Somers Point for 17 years before demolishing it last year and replacing it with The Point.

In a related development, Sea Isle has notified GMH that its plans for a restaurant at the Springfield property will have to go before the city’s zoning board for site plan approval and a zoning variance.

Neil Byrne, Sea Isle’s construction and zoning officer, ruled that the proposed restaurant does not meet the requirements of the city’s building regulations.

“I believe that this project does not meet the definition of a fully enclosed Restaurant with liquor license or fully enclosed Tavern,” Byrne wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to Andrew Catanese, the attorney representing GMH.

The company has the option of appealing Byrne’s ruling to the zoning board or revising its plans. GMH’s redevelopment plan is far less extensive than another project that had been proposed by a previous would-be buyer of the Springfield.

The now-closed Springfield Inn will be demolished to make room for redevelopment of the property.

Springfield Inn closed in September 2019 in anticipation of its sale then to a Pennsylvania-based development group called HKM43 LLC. The group wanted to demolish the old building to make room for a new three-story complex featuring a restaurant, outdoor bar, banquet hall and condos.

However, the members of the HKM43 group announced in September that they had withdrawn from the sale talks after their investors “got cold feet” amid the coronavirus pandemic, delays in closing the deal and an unsuccessful attempt to secure a bank loan to help finance the purchase.

But only a few weeks later, GMH Restaurant Holdings announced its plans to buy the Springfield Inn and redevelop the property.