Jersey’s shore thing

The five oceanside counties enjoyed an increase in tourism spending last year while home prices inched upwards across the board
By Bryan Virasami | June 05, 2017 01:00PM

Attractions like Point Pleasant’s boardwalk helped to rake in $41.9 billion in tourism spending in New Jersey last year.

The tide is high for Garden State tourism, which saw an uptick in visitor numbers in 2016 for the seventh straight year, according to a state analysis. Unsurprisingly, half of the $41.9 billion in statewide tourism spending went to the five beachside counties that constitute the Jersey Shore.

The area’s choicest summer rentals are in high demand and getting ever pricier — one seven-bedroom in Sea Girt rents for $60,000 a month — and the sales markets in the Shore’s counties are showing modest gains. Middlesex County’s median is up 5.5 percent to $302,400, according to Zillow. In Cape May County, the median sales price jumped 6 percent to $379,500 between 2016 and 2017, according to data compiled by Long & Foster Real Estate. Their data also shows that Monmouth County’s median is up 7 percent to $367,000, Ocean County’s median is up 4 percent, hitting $235,000, and Atlantic County is up 6 percent to $159,500.

But these figures are dwarfed by the sales of a handful of super-expensive homes on the Shore, including the sale of a Long Beach Township home in Ocean County in January for $8.3 million, listed by Long and Foster.

On the commercial front, new openings mean both residents and visitors will have plenty of things to look forward to during the high season. Clothing retailer Lilly Pulitzer opened its first-ever New Jersey location with a seasonal store opening in Avalon on Memorial Day weekend. Those eager to dine in the newest restaurant at the Shore can head to the Marina Grille in Belmar, which also debuted in May. And Atlantic City visitors can start counting down to summer 2018, when the Trump Taj Mahal will emerge rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Below, The Real Deal looks at some of the numbers behind the summer season on the Jersey Shore.

$60K

The monthly asking rent for this oceanfront single-family home in Sea Girt, Monmouth County, which was one of the most expensive summer rental listings in all of New Jersey as of May, according to Zillow. The 3,850-square-foot colonial-style home, listed by Ocean Pointe Realtors, has seven bedrooms, six baths and an indoor pool. It’s available for the month of July and August and can be rented in two-week increments.

$6M

The cost to build the Marina Grille, a waterfront restaurant on Route 35 South in Belmar, which opened on May 9. The 12,000-square-foot town-owned building overlooks the Shark River is operated by Chefs International, which has nine other restaurants in Monmouth and Ocean counties. It’s leasing the land from Belmar for $250,000 a year as part of a multiyear lease. The restaurant will be open year-round and has seating for 500 including outdoor tables.

23,876

The number of homes sold in 2016 in the five Jersey Shore counties, of which Monmouth recorded the highest number of closed deals at 8,232 (including condos and townhouses), according to data compiled by New Jersey Realtors. Atlantic County registered a 25.5 percent jump in closed deals for single-family homes in 2016 over the previous year.

$2 million

The asking price of the Jersey Shore landmark Circus Drive-in on Route 35 in Wall Township, which was put up for sale this year, 63 years after it opened in 1954. The agent representing the property, Gerard Norkus of Harold Wien Real Estate, said in early May that the property was “in contract” and that the new owner will not use it as a restaurant. He said the details of the deal were confidential. The restaurant became famous for its circus-themed menu as well as soft-shell crabs. Some call it the most iconic drive-in in New Jersey. The restaurant was open during the beach season and was very popular among Shore summer vacationers.

$8.5B

The amount the five Jersey Shore counties generated through lodging in 2016, according to a report by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. Atlantic and Cape May counties, with 40 miles of coastline, raked in the most overall tourism dollars with $6.85 billion and $6.27 billion, respectively. The study attributed the increase to good weather, low gas prices and 3.3 percent growth in visits to the state last year compared 2015.

290

The number of properties owned by Syrian Jewish real estate moguls in the hamlet of Deal in Monmouth County, as The Real Deal reported in 2015. The properties make up nearly a third of the 1.2-square-mile town’s 952 residences. High-powered investors with surnames familiar to the New York City commercial real estate market, like Sutton, Sitt, Adjmi, Cayre, Nakash and many others can be spotted here. One source said three key factors prompted Sephardic Jewish families from Brooklyn — many of Syrian origin and working in the garment and retail industries — to buy in Deal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were: low taxes, a synagogue and the Deal Casino, which was actually not a casino but a beach club restricted to Deal residents.

1,000

The square footage of Lilly Pulitzer’s first Jersey store, which opened on Memorial Day weekend at 2009 Dune Drive in Avalon. The upscale but casual clothing company is known for its bright and summery floral patterns. The store will close by the end of September each year and remain shuttered during the off-season, a company spokesperson said. Some 79 percent of Cape May County visitors take time out for shopping while they’re on vacation, a county tourism official told the Philadelphia Inquirer, and last year the region saw the highest retail spending at the Shore with $1.2 billion.