Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Work begins on Boardwalk Mall balcony, extension of Capt’n Jack’s

After several years of planning and a months-long application process, work has begun on the addition of a second floor balcony at the
Boardwalk Mall that will serve as an extension of Capt’n Jack’s Island Grill.

Expected to be completed in advance of Memorial Day Weekend, the cantilevered deck will run the length of the front of the mall, roughly 90 feet, before wrapping around the Garfield Avenue (north) side for another 35 feet; it will extend six feet over the Boardwalk (more on that below).

“This is a project we really believe in,” Capt'n Jack’s co-owner Sean Dougherty told Wildwood 365. “It’s a long time coming, but we wanted to do it right. The mall has seen some great improvements over the past few years, and we believe this facelift will help take it to the next level.”

Dougherty confirmed that the mall’s large marquee has been temporarily removed; it will be refurbished and reinstalled, along with new awnings, once the new balcony is in place. Additionally, a “Doo Wop-style” LED sign will be added to the corner of the property.

“Any time you can see a property being invested in, like with a new sign or an updated facade, that’s a big plus,” continued Dougherty. “Our goal is to help continue the Boardwalk’s revitalization by revitalizing the front of this building, while making the Capt’n Jack’s experience even better.

“We want people to walk by and say ‘Wow, look at that place, I want to go there!’ The wraparound balcony will give it a 3D look that will really stand out.”

The balcony project cleared its final hurdle on March 22, when the Wildwood Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance permitting the structure to encroach six feet over the “public right of way.”

The Wildwood Planning Board had approved the application for the balcony back in January, but City Solicitor Lewis DeLollis subsequently noted that the board did not have the authority to approve construction that would obtrude into (or, in this case, over) a right of way. 

Prior to approval from the planning board, as well as the final OK from Mayor Pete Byron and commissioners Krista Fitzsimons and Steve Mikulski, assurances were given that the balcony would be fashioned so that food or drink could not fall through onto people walking below. 

“This is another exciting project for Wildwood,” Phil Swetsky, vice chairman of the planning board, told Wildwood 365 back in January. “We had some serious concerns about the overhang over the Boardwalk, but they made some design changes during the planning board meeting, including a railing that has a circular top, which drinks won’t be able to be set on, and a drainage system so rain water won’t flow onto the Boardwalk below.

“The project is a substantial investment on the Boardwalk and, quite frankly, Wildwood could use more of it. I believe it will be a great addition to the Boardwalk Mall and to the Boardwalk, in general.”

The commissioners’ decision, via Ordinance 1257-23, gave the green light for construction of the balcony to begin. The process began in earnest on Tuesday, with prep work and the (again, temporary) removal of the mall’s marquee.

When asked if the ordinance could set a precedent for other Boardwalk businesses or property owners looking to expand in a similar way, Mayor Byron explained that the commissioners’ ruling is not universal, and that such requests will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“This only applies to this property,” he said. “A variance, which was required, is a standalone for this property. Anyone else looking to do the same thing would have to follow the same application process.”

Dougherty and his partners - brother E.J. Dougherty and Patrick Rosenello - also own and operate the original Capt’n Jack’s Island Grille (2705 Boardwalk) and Papi’s Tacos (2901 Boardwalk) in Wildwood, in addition to AGAVE Tequila Bar and Harbor Burger Bar in Stone Harbor, and Nucky’s Kitchen & Speakeasy in Ventnor.

The trio opened their second Capt’n Jack’s location at the Boardwalk Mall in 2020, part of a major revamp of the building that also saw the additions of The Chillin Pineapple and Playa Bowls

The mall’s current roster of shops and attractions also includes: East Side Sunglasses Store & Surf Shop, Sportsman’s Corner, The Concert Store, Old Time Photo, Wild Poke Bowls, Kannavis Botanicals, Maggie’s Boutique, Sun and Sand Boutique, She Shell Boutique and the Boardwalk Mall Arcade.

Capt’n Jack’s occupies a space at Boardwalk level on the corner of Garfield Avenue, as well as the entire second floor, with bar and dining area opening to a panoramic view of the boards, beach and ocean - a setting the owners hope to further enhance with the addition of the balcony.

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