Sea Isle City Monster Houses…..what are they and is there a practical solution to the problem?


What you are seeing here are two side-by-side condo/townhouses built to V-Zone construction normally only found with Beach Front or Bay Front constructions.  These homes, however, are in the middle of the block.  The living spaces in each of these buildings total 105% of the lot size.

The following letter was written to the Mayor of Sea Isle City and the City Council in an effort to offer information and a solution to the problem of “Monster Houses.”  The same day it was sent, the Sea Isle City Council voted on an Ordinance reducing allowable Floor Area Ratio to .8 percent in an effort to end the building of Monster Houses and satisfy the voices of those who complained about them.  They voted this time in favor of the Ordinance but it is not law yet.  This all came about very quickly.  I hope the following letter was read by all it was sent to and the contents taken seriously by the minds of those who we trust to make the best decisions for our city.   I hope they are not acting in haste and are listening to all the people of Sea Isle City.    Most importantly, I hope their votes are not based on personal preferences of their own.  The photos included in this blog are of 4 monster houses that I found in the lower lying areas of town.    Some of them get as much as $6,000 a week in rent and they are west of Landis Ave.  There are beach front rentals that don’t get that much.  These homes’ living space is 105% of the lot size.   The designers of these homes took advantage of the elimination of Floor Area Ratio creating big, boxy and unattractive buildings that are objectionable.  Here is the letter received by the City:

“Dear Mayor, Council Members and City Administrator,

If I may, I wanted to share a few thoughts I have in regards to the much publicized “Monster Houses”. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read and take into consideration my thoughts.

Five years ago, City Council passed revised zoning ordinances for the purpose of advancing compliance with FEMA and the NFIP. The main goal was to eliminate below base flood elevation grade level storage rooms (that were being improved into “bonus room” living spaces) by allowing these rooms to be built at the required base flood elevation height. To accommodate this goal, zoning codes were revised allowing roof heights to be raised two feet and the elimination of the floor area ratio. I believe this has been a very effective remedy to eliminate further non-complying bonus rooms, as evidenced by the flood insurance discounts the city procured for their property owners through the NFIP CRS program. I am certain that every property owner is grateful for the hard work the city officials put forth to bring the flood insurance discounts to fruition.

As a builder of many single and two family homes in Sea Isle City, we found the zoning changes to be well received by our clients and the surrounding owners of the properties we have re-developed. In the spirit of the zoning changes, we were able to take our prototype two unit, 5 bedroom condominium and simply raise the foyers and bonus rooms (into a complying family rooms) to accommodate the city’s goals. Additional bedrooms or floors did not need to be added to produce safe and enjoyable homes. With maintaining the 35% lot coverage requirement, the volume or footprint of the building was not changed except for the additional two feet in building height. The raised family rooms did increase the floor area ratio to approximately 90% of the lot size; however I do not believe these are the style buildings being described as “Monster Houses” that many property owners are up in arms about.

I believe the essence of the Monster Houses started with the changing of base flood height requirements after SANDY. The FEMA advisory maps changed some A-zones to V-zones which initiated the construction of four story buildings on inner island streets. These buildings provide for grade level parking with three full floors above and with as many as 8-9 bedrooms per unit. With three floors conforming to the 35% lot coverage, the floor area of this style building totals 105% of the lot size. Now that it seems FEMA has resolved this problem with the soon to be adopted preliminary maps, some of the four story looking buildings no longer will be built. However, due to the increase of the base flood elevation heights in certain areas, it is still possible to squeeze in four story buildings in some low lying A-zone areas. These buildings are not in keeping with the purpose and intent of the zoning changes made five years ago.

My concern is this; will reverting back to a floor area ratio be taking a step backwards? To maintain 70-80% FAR, I anticipate new designs to include grade levels being primarily used for parking and the 2nd & 3rd floors for living spaces. The oversized grade level garage may be attractive to property owners as areas to partition off for recreational and/or other habitable uses.

There is much more to consider than what I have mentioned above. For example, beach front V-zone style homes have typically been built in the past as elevated three story buildings with parking underneath. These properties have been the unintended beneficiary of the zoning code changes made 5 years ago. Now beach front V-zone homes can be built two feet higher with three full floors at the 35% lot coverage or at a 105% FAR. Also, there are other areas with undersized lots such as in Townsend Inlet where currently larger single family homes with added bedrooms can be built without the need to accommodate additional off-street parking.

One criticism sometimes mentioned is the lack of uniformity of homes and neighborhoods in Sea Isle City. Perhaps changing zoning codes every 5 years or so can create uniformity problems. I also think there are areas in Sea Isle City that differ from other areas and therefore should be treated differently. I do not think there is a one zoning code fits all.

I believe the recent “Monster House” concern is an opportunity to address some major challenges in making Sea Isle City an even more enjoyable vacation destination. It is my suggestion to consider an immediate ban of 4 story buildings from being built in low lying A-zones. This would provide an immediate action to address some of the concerns and may allow for additional time to effectively address all concerns. Perhaps a task force of city officials, realtors, builders/developers and concerned property & business owners can be assembled to work together in unison to devise a plan that suits the best interest of the Sea Isle City community as a whole.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Rich Mashura

Mashura Builders”




Sea Isle City to limit Floor Area Ratio and how it will affect real estate values

The following was in the Sea Isle City Newsletter dated December 23, 2015:

“During our December 22, 2015 Regular Council Meeting the Council had a lengthy discussion regarding the Master Plan Re-Examination which is currently being undertaken by the Planning Board.  The Council unanimously agreed to direct the Solicitor to draft an Ordinance for Introduction at the January 5, 2016 meeting reinstating Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.).”

How will the Ordinance affect the values of real estate in Sea Isle City?  I can say with relative certainty that the homes built between 2009, when the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) was eliminated, and now (or soon when the new Ordinance is passed and enforced some time this year), will hold the best value.    Why?  Because they have the most living space of all the homes ever built.    I can speak specifically for homes built by Mashura Builders as holding the best value for more reasons than just size, but I’ll limit this blog to the talking points. They design living space in a very useful way without insulting architectural integrity.   Another words, their homes are not overly big and objectionable and the elimination of FAR was never taken advantage of by them to maximize profit from sales.    But, I am afraid to say, those who did take advantage of the elimination of FAR are the same people who caused the public outcry for a change back to reinstatement of same.

All of you who own one of the homes that was built during the time period when FAR was eliminated will realize the highest value for your property.    As the building codes of Sea Isle City again change, we will have yet another style of home to pepper our streets and cause further inconsistency in the town’s landscape.  The fact of the matter is that most of the real estate has already been redeveloped.  There are not that many tear downs left on full size lots to redevelop into condo/townhouses which is at the heart of the matter.    I am not sure it will really make that much difference overall but it will make a relatively small number of people happy that made a lot of noise during a recent City Planning Board meeting.FullSizeRender3To end on a positive note, Sea Isle City real estate will always be in demand no matter what is built here.  People just love this town and that’s a fact.

Sea Isle City approves Acme expansion

acme_style_sea_isle_city_07Well, it is finally happening.  The 9,000 sq. ft. Acme in Sea Isle City is being torn down and a new 26,200 sq. ft. Acme will replace it.  Who can say it isn’t needed?  Sea Isle is a tourist town and tourists, more aptly known as vacationers or shoobies, need to grocery shop.  And, I would be remiss not to say that most of our summer friends are property owners who pay taxes although they are not year round.   As much as we all love the Sea Isle City of yesteryear, it has to change and is changing all the time.  You’ve come along way baby!  Not everybody wants it, but it is inevitable.

A small majority of the summer inhabitants are year round including myself.  I’ve also been vacationing in Sea Isle since I was a kid so I don’t want to see Funtown Arcade go no more than anybody else.  It saddens me that it will soon be just a memory.  Even if they find another location, and I hope they do, it won’t be the same.   But let’s think positive.   The new Acme will be built above base flood elevation which is required by FEMA, our building codes enforce it, and it affects flood insurance rates.   (That’s a fact that not only affects this commercial property but the building of new residential properties as well.  This fact connects this post to my last post of 7/6/15 about the “monster high” duplexes and the reason behind higher building heights.)  Another plus is that it is really crowded in our tiny Acme in the summer time and the parking lot is crazy.  It feels like the odds are against you so you prepare yourself for a fender bender or crane your neck in every direction to avoid one.  It is very true that we don’t need a bigger store after October or before May but again, what made property values climb collectively over the years?  Our summer guests had a lot to do with it, so let’s accommodate them as they deserve and make it safe.

I applaud the representative from Acme who listened to nearby small business owners at the City Council meeting on 8/4/15, and told City Council there would not be a large sign (it needed a variance.) saying “Beach Shop” at the new shopping center.    I have a hard time seeing how that would be an appropriate sign anyway.  Acme is not a beach shop.  Neither is Uncle Oogies pizzeria or Rick’s Breakfast Place (the two existing businesses that will move adjacent to where they currently are now into commercial properties and will be part of the new Acme Shopping Center.)

Lastly but not least, being the foodie that I am, I look forward to more varieties of food, not necessarily more varieties in terms of brands, that awaits us year rounders and will help enhance those quiet winter nights.  Even though Sea Isle has certainly grown and changed over the years, it is still loved and enjoyed by families and friends that have vacationed here or lived here for several generations and growing.

Changes in New Construction Requirements in Sea Isle City?

This is ½ inch CDX plywood sheathing

This is ½ inch CDX plywood  as opposed to OSB (oriented strand board).  OSB has demonstrated to burn quickly because it is a composite.

Most people have noticed the huge new duplexes being built in the last few years due to Ordinance 1489 passed in 2010. (see City News tab for the latest Newsletter or look at the ordinance here: ) Some of these duplexes look monstrous compared to other nearby homes and now City Council is addressing this issue and its related problems.  Some people are complaining that it looks terrible and, perhaps, rightfully so. But, there are also practical issues connected with the doing away with “floor area ratio” and “increased building heights by 2 feet” as created by the Ordinance. The result is that homes that are 25% to as much as 50% larger than before. The concerns are with height, parking and mass/size. The majority of Council at its last meeting, 6/23/15, asked that this issue be sent to the Planning Board to be included in the current Master Plan Re-Examination. The Sea Isle City Planning Board meets on the second Monday of the month.  It will be interesting to see if they do anything about it.

Sea Isle City Homes Under $200,000

3918 Landis Avenue, Unit #110, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $159,000 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This charming 1 Bedroom 1 Bathroom Condo is located in the center of town in Sea Isle City. This first floor corner unit is conveniently located to shops, restaurants, and the beach. Don’t miss out on this sweet deal!

4600 Landis Avenue, 3rd Floor Unit, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $139,000 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This 3rd floor 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit is one of the nicer units on the property. Very nicely decorated with a king size bed, recliner chair and dining area with refrigerator and sink. And it’s only one block to the beach!

4600 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $127,900 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This cozy one-bedroom condo is conveniently located one block from the beach and within walking distance to everything the town has to offer. Enjoy your days and nights relaxing on the spacious wrap around deck or seek refuge from the summer heat inside the stylish common area.

4600 Landis Avenue, 1st Floor, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $110,000 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This historical one-bedroom condo is conveniently located one block from the beach. All utilities are included in the condo fees. Use this great condo for a weekend getaway or a great rental property.

The Importance of Staging a Home

An important issue that needs to be addressed in every home being sold these days is the staging of the home. First impressions of a house mean a lot, and it’s always a good idea to have your home staged, especially if the staging is done right. Buyers are looking to envision themselves in your home, and in order to do so, it always helps to stage the home in an appealing way. In a recent survey, 81% of realtors said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home. This is hard for any seller to ignore.

With so many online resources, it’s easy to get inspired to beautify your home. Pinterest is a great online resource, allowing you to “pin” or bookmark your ideas from home design inspiration blogs, websites, and pictures of homes around the world. You can even make your Pinterest searches specific, like, “staging a beach home”. There are plenty of great home design blogs to look to for inspiration as well.

Here are some easy tips to staging your home that you might want to consider when getting ready to sell your home.

  1. Painting solves a lot of problems
    A little bit of paint can go a long way for a room that needs it. Look to modernize your home with some neutral colored paint
  2. De-Clutter
    The less “stuff” you have laying around, the better. Buyers want to see a clean, minimal home.
  3. Lighting Matters
    More light is never a bad thing, so make sure curtains are open, and lights are on. Adding lighting to dark corners can also help open up a space.
  4. Little Fixes Mean Big Results
    Just because your space may be a little outdated, it doesn’t mean you have to make huge, expensive changes. Replacing cabinet hardware, painting cabinets, and adding small touches, like a new light fixture, can make all the difference in the world.
  5. Storage, Storage, Storage!Buyers are always worrying about storage space, and are looking for plenty of it! Any space you can play up for storage is a major bonus – this could mean clearing out a garage, shed, basement, attic, or any closet space to show how much storage your home actually has.
  6. Outdoors
    Outdoor space is particularly special to buyers. It doesn’t matter if you have a ton of outdoor space or just a little, the way you decorate outside makes a huge difference. Replacing dirty, worn outdoor furniture with new pieces is one way to persuade buyers that you have an outdoor paradise.

I enjoy being helpful to sellers with staging because it is something I have a passion for. Please contact me if you want to learn more about staging a home, and are looking for sound advice and years of experience selling down the shore!

Sources: Home and Garden, Pinterest

Great Sea Isle City Homes Under $250,000

Take a look at these five steals for under $250,000. These are certainly worth your time and investment!

8601 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $249,900 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This well-maintained beach block condo has a large deck with a peek of the ocean. Parking for 2 and Pet friendly. It’s also close to the ocean and restaurants.

4600 Landis Avenue, Unit 3A, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $245,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This is a very nice third floor corner unit facing Landis Ave. with a full kitchen and 2 bedrooms. It’s also close to the beach!

110 85th Street, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $239,900 | 1 bedroom | 1 bath

This 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo is all you need for a home away from home in Sea Isle. There is a private outside shower, private storage closet, and the best part about it – it’s so close to the beach!

4600 Landis Avenue, Second Floor, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $229,900 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This is a wonderful two bedroom, one bath condo condo on the second floor of a historical, late 1800’s Victorian building. There is a large kitchen with eat in dining area, a living room with nine foot ceilings.

229 86th Street, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $209,900 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This two bedroom, 1st Floor condo unit is just adorable and has been beautifully maintained. You can’t beat the location – close to the bay, Townsend Inlet Yacht Club, and great dining at Sunset Pier. It’s a short two block walk to the beach!

Sea Isle Homes for Under $300,000

Continuing our list of great Sea Isle homes under $300,000, here are five more that are worth your time.

117 65th Street, First Floor, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $274,900 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This two bedroom, one bath, first floor condo is part of a well run association. The living area, dining area, and kitchen are one room. This condo also has a nice size deck that allows for a table and chairs.

4900 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $264,500 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This bright and airy unit is just two blocks from the beach. There is a large living room with a slider leading to the rear deck. Fully furnished so you can move right in and enjoy all that Sea Isle City has to offer!

Listed at $259,900 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

Two Bedroom beach block condominium priced to sell. Move in condition. Steps to the beach and ocean views from the balcony.

Listed at $259,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

Partial Bay view. Close to Sunset Pier and Busch’s restaurant and Blitz’s Market. New furniture, TV’s, appliances, and bedding. Private entrance and deck. One half block from the bay, two blocks from the ocean. Affordable taxes and condo fee.

Listed at $259,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

Well kept 2 bedroom condo that has been recently upgraded. Appliances, floors and furniture less than two years old. Located near Sunset Pier yet still only two blocks to the beach.

New Jitney Service for Strathmere

An exciting new development is coming this summer to Strathmere and Sea Isle City! Jitney service will now run from Strathmere to Sea Isle City. The new route runs between the Deauville Inn in Strathmere and downtown Sea Isle City.

The Strathmere Jitney will stop along Ocean Drive/Common Avenue/Landis Avenue, on JFK Boulevard, and at Fish Alley. The Strathmere jitney does not travel south of JFK Blvd on Landis Avenue, so in order to go south of JFK, passengers must switch to a Sea Isle City Jitney.

In case you aren’t familiar with the Sea Isle City jitney, it’s a great alternative to driving or waiting for a cab in Sea Isle. The Jitney service in Sea Isle started in the summer of 2012 and has been very popular ever since. The service goes up and down Landis Ave for a small fare. You never have to wait more than 5 minutes for one, and they run late – until 4am.

This is an especially convenient and safe way for people to enjoy the bar scene in Sea Isle. It’s worth a couple bucks to use the Jitney and get home safely.

More 2015 Jitney information:

Memorial Day Weekend:
Friday, 6pm-4am
Saturday, 4pm-4am
Sunday, 4pm-4am

June 5 – June 27
Fridays, 6pm-4am
Saturdays, 4pm-4am

June 28 – September 6
7 Days a Week, 4pm-4am

September 11 – September 26
Fridays, 6pm-4am
Saturdays, 4pm-4am

New Year’s Eve

$2 per person one-way before 11:00pm
$4 per person one-way after 11:00pm
Kids under 5 ride free

For up-to-date information, visit Sea Isle City’s Jitney Information page.

LuAnn’s Top Picks Under $300,000

This month we’ll be featuring a bunch of affordable homes in Sea Isle City. Here are our first five – all steals!

135 65th Street, Unit #13, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $295,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1.5 baths

This well-maintained condo has a lot to offer! An open-floor living plan, 10 foot high ceilings, and a deck off the rear are all great features! Close to a great beach, Dealy Field Recreation Complex, and the Acme shopping center.

114 37th Steet, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $289,000 | 3 bedrooms | 1.5 baths

This top floor unit is well maintained and has a great rental history as a seasonal rental, with a new air conditioning system and large attic space. The exterior of the building is maintenance free with composite decking and vinyl siding. This property is conveniently located in the center of town close to the beach restaurants, shopping & night life.

225 87th Street, Rear Cottage, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $279,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This modern cottage has all the amenities you’re looking for, including stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, central air, and a huge wrap around deck! This property is a rare find!

115 38th Street, Unit A, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $275,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This first floor condo is close to everything, right in the heart of Sea Isle. You can walk to the beach, bars, restaurants, and amusements. What more could you ask for? Private outside shower and 10x 12 foot locking storage shed.

4411 Park Road 1st Floor, Sea Isle City, NJ

Listed at $299,000 | 2 bedrooms | 1 bath

This first floor of a duplex features new tile and hardwood and a huge backyard. Also, enjoy being close to the amusements and a short walk to town!

Stay tuned for more top picks under $300,000!