SEA BRIGHT: Some of the oldest structures at historic Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook could be be rehabbed and reused under a new plan that is just beginning to take shape.
"What we are looking to do is the rehabilitation and adapted reuse of the Officers Row buildings at Fort Hancock in the northern portion of Sandy Hook," Fort Hancock 21st Century Federal Advisory Committee Unit Coordinator Pete McCarthy said at the Feb. 3 Sea Bright Council meeting.
The committee, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, is making recommendations to the National Park Service on the adaptive reuse of buildings within the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark, located in Gateway National Recreation Area's Sandy Hook Unit.
The committee's affairs officer John Warren spoke about where the group is in the process and the steps that have already been taken.
Warren said there are over 100 historic structures at Sandy Hook but the committee is currently focusing on six buildings on the Main Post area.
A request for proposals was sent out for the six buildings in January which called for the two residential reuses, two for beds and breakfasts and two for non-profit organizations based on a land use map created by the committee.
The responses are due by April 17 and the highest ranked proposers will be selected as early as five weeks later and finally negotiations will commence before construction can begin.
Warren said the buildings can only be leased by developers because they are owned by the National Parks Service and they will require a lot of rehabilitation work which must be done according to federal standards since the buildings are part of the National Register of Historic Places.
"Although they are structurally pretty sound...the insides need work and they often need a great deal of work, and that's why were are interested in a lease (for the structures)," Warren said. "You lease it, you fix it up and the money your spending to rehabilitate this building will be used against your rent. Which basically means you won't be paying rent for a long time because of what you would be putting into the building."
He said the buildings can be leased to a developer for as long as 60 years but anticipates that much shorter leases will be granted.
Sea Bright resident and committee member Karolyn Wray said she feels the rehabilitation of the buildings will benefit the borough. Wray said construction workers doing the rehab work, future residents and employees who will reside and work in the rehabbed buildings will help the economy of Sea Bright by coming into town to shop and eat.
"I think Sea Bright and Highlands are going to reap the majority of the benefits of all that going on," Wray said. "And we're not talking a 6-month, 1-year or 2-year plan, this is going to be for a long time with people coming through our town to get that community together."