A developer has a green light to tear down the long-vacant Palermo’s Family Market at Fourth Street and Asbury Avenue, and he said he will begin work “as soon as possible.”
Mick Duncan, owner of Duncan Homes at the Shore and Surfside Construction, won Planning Board approval in May to replace the abandoned supermarket with seven duplexes.
A citizen group, Ocean City Smart Growth, had threatened to file an appeal of the Planning Board decision in Cape May County Superior Court. But cofounder Phyllis Coletta said last week that the group never did. The 45-day appeal period has now passed.
City regulations typically prevent demolition work during the summer, but Duncan learned on Thursday that the city will make an exception.
Ocean City Business Administrator Jim Mallon said that in certain cases involving public safety and public nuisance, the city has granted permission for summer demolitions.
In this case, some neighbors had objected to the plan allowing the construction of seven duplexes on the property, but none opposed seeing the eyesore removed.
Duncan has agreed to demolish the dilapidated supermarket and upper-floor residences, and to pay $325,000 for the cleanup of an oil spill covering the first three lots of the property and a neighboring property (from tanks that already have been removed).
He said he does not yet have an exact day for the start of work, but he anticipates demolition starting soon. Remediation of the oil spill will begin after the demolition, and construction will not begin until the fall.
“I’m trying to be conscious of the neighborhood,” he said.
Ocean City Director of Community Operations Roger McLarnon said the city will require proof of full extermination of rodents and pests before work can begin. He said dust-control measures will be enforced with water required to be on site. The city anticipates the work can be completed within a couple days, he said. Crews would be required to follow regulations that set hours for demolition and construction work.
Duncan’s plans for the site include seven duplexes with each individual unit including three bedrooms and about 1,200 square feet of living space.
Each unit will have two spaces for off-street parking, one in a garage and one in a driveway off the rear alley. Because an existing building that is not part of the Palermo property takes up a small part of the corner lot, Duncan received a variance to build the corner duplex on a 40-by-80-foot lot (the other lots are 100 feet deep). The corner unit has its garage in the front with a new curb cut to Asbury Avenue in his plan.
But because about more than 90 feet of existing curb cut from the existing supermarket would be eliminated, two on-street parking spaces are expected to be added.
All the units conform with an existing zone for residential duplexes with 30-foot frontages (R2-30) that was approved in August 2014.
The plans showed a variety of designs for the front and rear facades.
Duncan told neighbors in the spring that he does not yet have a listing price for the new units, but he said he’s been told that sales of comparable duplex units fall in the $400,000 to $420,000 range.
“I want it gone,” John Moeller, a resident of the 400 block of Asbury Avenue, said at a neighborhood meeting in the spring about plans for the property. He said he routinely cleans up nails and debris that fall from the deteriorating building.
Michael McSweeney, whose Central Avenue property backs up to the Palermo tract, said the abandoned structures are home to raccoons, opossums and other “vermin” the size of small dogs.
The business has been closed since 2009 and listed for sale since 2011.
Duncan said he anticipates the new homes could be complete in spring 2016.