Cape May Jetty Motel Demolition Approved (Guest Article)

CAPE MAY — The Historic Preservation Commission approved demolition of the Jetty Motel on Second Avenue and conceptual renderings for a new hotel.

During a meeting Nov. 20, Cape Jetty LLC principal Emmanuel DeMutis was seeking a demolition permit for the existing structure and conceptual approval to build a new hotel.

The HPC approved a demolition permit in February 2006, but the permit was not acted upon and expired. Cape Jetty LLC is currently seeking the same approval. The building has not changed since 2006.

Architect Steven Fenwick gave the HPC a presentation on the existing building and future plans.

“The existing Jetty Motel building does not have any historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic signifi – cance,” Fenwick said. “The proposed hotel is a permitted use within the zone and conforms to all the zoning requirements. The existing motel does contain some zoning nonconformance.”

Fenwick stated the Jetty Motel represented a lifestyle rather than structural significance.

“The removal of the building would not be detrimental to the integrity of the property or the historic district or public interest,” he said. “There is no uncommon craftsmanship, texture or material incorporated into the structure.” The retention of the building would not increase property values, promote business or contribute to other aspects of the public interest, he said. The present building is structurally sound and does not contain attractions or amenities to induce the current industry, according to Fenwick.

The Jetty Motel was built in the late 1950s. It is a masonry building with a stucco finish, vinyl siding in the front, a fl at roof, parking and a swimming pool, he noted.

The proposed building is similar to the one that was previously conceptually approved in 2006. It would be three stories of habitable space with parking below and on part of the second floor. The base of the building would be brick veneer, poured in place concrete structure. Plans call for brick openings arched with lattice enclosure to provide parking ventilation and screening from public view. The building conforms to the zoning regulations as to height. It would include a restaurant.

“The prior conceptual approval had three townhouse units on the property that is now a single-family home that was subdivided in the interim years and a new single-family home was approved for that site,” Fenwick said.

The proposed building has been reduced in scale. Materials in the conceptual drawings include shingle as the primary siding material, cement board in addition, and the roof would be a mix of fi berglass asbestos shingle. The turrets and gables would be a synthetic slate. The windows would have crowns and traditional trim work, and would be further discussed with the board.

The conceptual rendering includes a proposal for metal railings with a decorative circular motif. The columns would be trimmed in a traditional fashion. A continuous decorative band would separate the bottom and top of the building.

A landscape architectural plan is scheduled to be discussed at the next HPC meeting. The plan calls for landscaping in the back of the hotel to shield it from the house.

HPC Chairman Warren Coupland asked if the shingles were going to be a cedar shake. Fenwick said there would be a texture and pattern that varies with cement board.

“We’ve been looking for the softer material to run horizontal to the building instead of perpendicular,” Coupland said. “The perpendicular makes it look like piano keys, more of a suburban look.”

The board agreed that the provided information was helpful and asked questions regarding the lighting and sidewalk, and additional information will be provided and discussed at the next meeting.

“We are a stickler for details on the final,” Coupland said. “We prefer the hardy board as planks to have a flat finish and framing around the windows. We had been urged by the Environmental Commission to use energy-efficient materials. There are synthetic slate roofs with solar panels that still look like slate roofs and we would ask you to look at that and see if that would be a possibility for your roof.”

HPC member Bonnie Pontin said the proposed design was a beautiful rendition and would be an uplifting change for that end of the beach.

The Cape May Planning Board granted preliminary site approval for this project and the applicant returned to the board for a one-year extension on the preliminary approval, which expires in June 2018. They will seek final site plan approval from the Planning Board.

This is a guest post by Rachel Shubin, freelance writer and blogger at Cape May Rachel and a Millennial in Wonderland. It originally appeared in the Star and Wave Newspaper

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  1. Jeff Bean
    December 8, 2017 / 2:50 pm

    “The existing Jetty Motel building does not have any historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic significance”

    Except it’s where my grandmother sat by the edge of the pool while I splashed around and said, “watch me!” Not that THAT matters or anything

    • Susan
      December 8, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      Exactly, Jeff … it’s also where our family stayed when I was a very small girl. It’s very historical, and sentimental, to me. I’m so sad to read this article as well.

    • Judi Olson and Peter Reynolds
      March 10, 2018 / 7:21 pm

      We love the Jetty. We’ve been going there for years and took our three grandkids there last summer. They were looking forward to going again this year. So sad that it won’t be happening 😔

  2. Sara E
    December 8, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    Heartbroken to read this. Four generations of my family have stayed at The Jetty. I can’t imagine Cape May without it. Certainly a significant piece of history for me and my family.

  3. Neil Kearns
    December 9, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    This is very sad news to hear. My parents took me to Cape May for the first time in 1978 and we stayed there for many vacations throughout my life. This Motel has always held fond memories for me, I will miss it. 😔

  4. Maria Considine
    December 11, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    While there maybe no historical significance to the city, there certainly is to our family. Four generations over 60 years have vacationed in Cape May….nearly 3 decades of which have been at The Jetty. It’s been our home away from home where you’re greeted & treated like family. I’m heartbroken.

  5. Amy
    December 18, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    When we first went to Cape May it took us several summers to find the Jetty. Now a decade later we continue to go because of people. You know folks by name, you watch families grow up. It may not be historically significant but when you go there you, for at least your short visit feel like time has stopped in a by gone era where folks were kinder, happier, and community fills your hear. Cape May Methodist Church even holds summer services at the pavilion across the street. I am a forward thinking person who believes progress. But, that’s because I find little time capsules a long the way to remind me to enjoy the journey. Jetty was one of those places and will be until it no longer stands the tides demolition.

  6. July 5, 2018 / 4:52 pm

    I’m completely bummed. I grew up coming to Cape May and have loved the Jetty for years. We have very few places like it on the planet and it definitely holds historic significance. A sweet and simple spot from which to enjoy the awesome Cove Beach. I hope this “demo” never takes place. A bad dream, for sure:(

  7. William Van Der Veen
    October 6, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    The Jetty represents the old Cape May before the high end hotels took over the landscape. If it goes, most traditional family vacations on The Cape will be priced out. The value isn’t in the architecture or in the historic significance, but in the hearts and memories of generations of families who stayed there. Without the Jetty, Cape May is forever diminished.

  8. John DeMattia Jr
    March 18, 2020 / 9:27 pm

    Got married on the beach there and the wedding party and family stood there for a long weekend back in 2012. Been going down to Cape May since 1964. The Old jetty will be missed.

  9. Autumn DeChurch
    March 28, 2022 / 6:40 pm

    I think its sickening how mom&pop businesses CAN THRIVE AND ACTUALLY SUCCEED WITH MUCH MUCH HISTORY AND NO MATTER HOW MANY PPL EVEN PPL WHO HAVE “SAY” AREN’T “HEARD”. My husband and I just just got married in Cape May right across the street from the Jetty Motel (a the pavilion). The Jetty came HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY EVEN MANY PPL IN PENNSYLVANIA! I came home and bragged how wonderful your town was and how close knit everyone was compared to where we come from in Pgh PA. ESPECIALLY APPRECIATE EVERYTHING YOU ALL ARE DOING AS A STATE FOR YOUR WILDLIFE. STILL GIVE YOU SO SO MANY BLESSINGS FOR THAT. The nesting areas that are protected, the wonderful Cape May Zoo I seen just got a brand new baby ring tail!! And the bird sanctuary…I COULD LIVE THERE IN A BOX &BE HAPPY. But come on…nobody with all these “germs” wants a huge huge hotel chain and restaurants. None of the restaurants were even open when we were there less than a yr ago bc NOBODY WANTS TO WORK ANYMORE. The Jetty was fully staffed with wonderful ppl. Ppl willing to help their customers with everything and anything…even being a witness for a couple of whom decided to get married, after knowing each other since kindergarten, went alone just the two of them, needed witnesses and who came up with suggestions and even said worse come to worse shed stay after work and be a witness…one of the very nice ladies at the check in desk. When any huge hotel chain would NEVER STAY AFTER THEY CLOCKED OUT TO HELP ANYONE. HUGE HOTEL CHAINS ARE TO COMMERCIAL &THE LACK OF “home” is definitely felt. My now husband and i extended our trip from less than a wk to almost 2 wks thanks to his wonderful mother of who also recommended the Jetty Motel and has been a high class citizen and very well educated teacher with high standards in the pgh area. You should be ashamed whoever is the last deciding figure of this horrendous idea.