Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Pacific Avenue Redevelopment Plan Revitalizes Downtown Wildwood

Project Name: Pacific Avenue Redevelopment Plan

Innovative plan that will connect neighborhoods and restore a vibrant downtown in Wildwood.

Primary Partner Team: Cape May County; City of Wildwood; Atlantic County Improvement Authority; South Jersey Economic Development District; Wildwood Redevelopment Advisory Committee; Clarke Caton Hintz

 


The iconic Jersey Shore town of Wildwood convened government and commercial interests to reimagine a restored future for its once thriving downtown corridor. “We look forward to working with developers who are bringing great projects to the table, and to using our tax abatement strategies to help them make the decision to invest in our downtown community,” said Mayor of Wildwood Peter Byron, describing efforts to redevelop Pacific Avenue in Wildwood, NJ. “The New [Pacific] Ave is ready to welcome a new era of building, investment, home ownership and transformation. We encourage builders and investors to be a part of the action.”

Wildwood is a vibrant summertime playground, and has long been a working-class haven among Jersey Shore resort towns, offering affordable access to the beach and boardwalk. Despite this, the Capital of Doo-Wop has seen its once thriving commerical corridor of Pacific Avenue suffer vacanices and disinvestment. The Pacific Avenue Redevelopment Plan seeks to connect neighborhoods and restore a vibrant downtown to generate sustained economic and physical activity. The plan intends to reestablish Pacific Avenue as the center of energy of Wildwood City. 

Once an area with blight, Wildwood’s Pacific Avenue has ample opportunity for redevelopment and revitalization. The plan’s diverse team—made up of a wide range of players including Cape May County, City of Wildwood, Atlantic County Improvement Authority, South Jersey Economic Development District, Clarke Caton Hintz, and the Wildwood Redevelopment Advisory Committee—have convened to change redevelopment regulations to facilitate the amendment of land use elements in Wildwood. This involved a lengthy municipal process to alter these regulations and city ordinances. As a result, development regulations will have smaller lot sizes; there are opportunities for adaptive reuse of already-existing buildings; and higher-density multi-family housing is permitted. Retail on Pacific Avenue is overwhelmed by large-scale corporations, such as a big box store on the mainland in nearby Rio Grande, but the embrace of a mixed-use design for downtown Wildwood offers support for local businesses run, staffed, and enjoyed by community members. These changes will create higher-density, year-round use, improved walkability, and greater commercial vibrancy in Wildwood City. 

In this work, Pacific Avenue in Wildwood has the opportunity to establish greater economic security and viability, creating an attractive place to live in South Jersey year round, and not just in the summers. Street design in Wildwood already is compact, largely bikeable, and walkable, ensuring the safety of young and old in their enjoyment of summer recreation, whether learning to ride their bike or staying in shape as a retiree. Wildwood is now seeking to attract year-round usage of its complete street network. By reinvigorating the life of downtown buildings and public spaces, families and community members can gather, work, live, and play in safe, accessible, sustainable places within Wildwood City. 

New Jersey Future is pleased to announce the Pacific Avenue Redevelopment Plan as an award winner for the Smart Growth Awards for 2022. The plan indicates a strong commitment to smart growth values through efforts to shift the standards for redevelopment to support accessibility, housing, mixed-use, and commercial development. Looking forward, this plan will be instrumental in facilitating the revitalization of downtown Wildwood’s economy and public space and provide an innovative model for shore communities looking to attract year-round residents.

 

See all 2022 Smart Growth Awards winners

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