The new Doc Magrogan's Oyster House and The Dunes at Townsend's Inlet hotel that are being developed on the site of the former Busch's restaurant will be delayed. The City of Sea Isle issued a stop work order the last week of September. The stop work order is due to the development including The Dunes hotel with rooms for up to 100 overnight guest. Apparently the city did not approve this aspect of the project and as a result construction has been put on hold. 8600 Landis, LLC. has sued the city in response to the stop work order. The development is approved and will no doubt move forward after the stop work order and lawsuit are resolved. This may not be what many Townsend's Inlet residents are hoping for, but the development complies with Sea Isle's first floor commercial with condos above zoning rules so there is little the city or residents can do to stop it. Although the stop work order will ensure that Doc Magrogan's is not opened for polar plunge weekend in February which was their target opening date.
If completed as currently planned, the project will include the restaurant, hotel and over 20 condos. This is a big change for one of Sea Isle's oldest and quietest areas. While Busch's restaurant was long a part of the Townsend's Inlet community, the days of Busch's drawing big crowds ended decades ago. And the residents of Townsend's Inlet are used to quiet nights even on summer weekends. While Doc Magrogans will not likely compete with the OD, LaCosta and Springfield for the weekend partying crowds, it will almost certainly draw a younger, livelier crowd than Busch's.
The rationale for Sea Isle's commercial first floor and condos above zoning policy was that it would prevent commercial buildings demolition and replacement with residential only development. However to date the effect has been to add more empty store fronts in Sea Isle without slowing the addition of residential units. Some of the new commercial space has been filled by long time Sea Isle businesses that have simply moved to newer space leaving their old spaces vacant. And much of the new commercial space sits vacant. The fact is that there are very few businesses that can survive with an eight week busy season. The shore has never been and never will be a tourist destination in the fall and winter and adding commercial space isn't going to change that.
Hopefully Doc Magrogans is successful as it would be nice to have another decent restaurant in Sea Isle, but it certainly will change the character of Townsend's Inlet.