The owners of four New Jersey motels agreed to sell their properties so they can be demolished and turned into open space with a $2.45 million federal grant intended to mitigate flooding, Democratic U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker said Tuesday.
The owners of the Bay Point Inn, Hi-Ho Motel, Destiny Inn and Budget Motel along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor have agreed to sell to the township for the properties’ assessed values, Township Administrator Peter Miller told The Press of Atlantic City.
About $2 million of the grant is for purchase, while the other $454,000 is for demolition, engineering and legal costs. The four hotels have had a total of 56 flooding claims paid out over the last 10 years and experts do not expect the situation to improve.
The land on each side of the road where the motels are located is narrow and surrounded by wetlands making it subject to flooding during high tides and heavy rainfall.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant is for removing structures that have had repetitive flood insurance losses greater than the value of the properties, Miller said.
The area, which is one of three main entryways to Atlantic City, has long been criticized as blighted.
“Storms like Superstorm Sandy have wreaked havoc on the flood-prone areas of our state and we need to ensure that we are prepared when the next storm hits,” Menendez said. “This federal funding will help with the robust mitigation and resiliency project that the Township has planned and it will help enhance the gateway into Atlantic City.”
Booker added that Egg Harbor will now be “better prepared” for repeating flooding events.
It’s the latest in recent federal funding earmarked for New Jersey. The senators earlier this morning announced $5.74 in fundings to support flood mitigation and resiliency projects along the Pompton River in North Jersey.
Menendez last year introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2019, which the senator said would fix the National Flood Insurance Program “by making insurance more affordable, reducing future damage by proactively investing in mitigation, and making the program more fair to policyholders and efficient for taxpayers.”
New Jersey has its own buyout and demolition program, known as Blue Acres, that has purchased 700 properties as of last year. More than 640 homes in 16 municipalities throughout nine counties have been demolished. But none have been along the Atlantic Ocean due to no willing sellers.
The state was targeting properties along the back bay in Pleasantville, just outside of Atlantic City, last year.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.