Belmar Restaurant Shines As Public/Private Partnership
The 9th Ave restaurant is celebrating it's grand opening on the marina in Belmar, however what makes this chow spot unique is the public/private partnership which will benefit it's host town for a quarter century.
The restaurant sits on land within the marina which is public land and technically owned by the people of Belmar. However, even though the location was considered ideal, the land was unused and in disrepair. Mayor Matt Doherty along with the Borough Council and Harbor Commission spearheaded an initiative to lease the land out to a private business in order to utilize the land.
Chef's International, the company behind popular shore restaurants like Lobster Shanty and Patio Bar, arraigned a deal with the Township to lease the space in order to construct a new restaurant.
Belmar mayor Matt Doherty explains the Borough agreed to lease the land to Chef's International for 25 years, in exchange for restaurant chain investing the money and risk into another location.
"So they've come in with their own private equity, and their own no-how and built the 9 Avenue Peir Bar and Restaurant. They'll operate it for the next twenty five years, paying the Borough of Belmar a land lease of 100,000 dollars a year, increasing at 3% for those twenty five years."
Mayor Doherty notes it's a win for the community because of the added draw of a new restaurant in a desirable location, but moreso it's an additional revenue stream for the borough as well-helping control property taxes.
"We're a small town" says Doherty "so one hundred thousand dollars every year goes a long way…It helps pay for the police, helps pay for the Department of Public Works, Helps to pay down some debt. It helps paying for recreation projects and programs and expanding senior programs. Most
importantly it helps keep property taxes under control."
The entire process began in April and was completed within 4 months, with 9 Ave opening to the public on July 17th.
The process of a public/private partnership requires approval on the municipal, county, and state level; and Doherty says all aspects moved very quickly and efficiently to get the project completed.
Doherty explains the municipal planning board had to give approval, then the council had to approve the mayor's plan. It then went to the State's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control had to grant a State Concessionary Liquor License.
"So there's multiple government agencies working behind the scenes, but the most important person is the private developer and operator who's going to risk their capital."
The Concessionary Liquor License is granted from the state and is not able to be transferred or sold by Chef's International, however Doherty notes if the company moves the Borough can bring in another operator and grant them the same license.