From the NYT:
With beaches replenished, boardwalks rebuilt and stores reopened, the Jersey Shore is gearing up for a summer busy enough to make last year’s anemic one a distant memory.
As renters rush to book their summer houses and buyers snatch up newly vacant land, a different Jersey Shore is taking shape one and a half years after Hurricane Sandy, one in which the small working-class bungalows that once defined communities like Ortley Beach are being replaced with spacious dream homes intended to entice wealthy vacationers.
Warnings of climate change and rising sea levels have done little to deter buyers who see opportunity in disaster. For some, the storm-tossed shore is a blank canvas, awaiting new construction that could redefine the look and feel of the coastline. Others, in the market for a safer bet on the beach, are zeroing in on areas that emerged relatively unscathed. In short, Hurricane Sandy hit the reset button on the Jersey Shore.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to be in a better spot,” said Eric J. Birchler, the owner of Birchler Realtors, which sells properties in Ortley Beach and Lavallette, two of the hardest hit areas. “You just stepped the entire gentrification of Ortley Beach forward five years because everything had to be rebuilt.”
Soon after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the vacation house and seasonal business of Chris Marino and Joanne de França-Marino in Lavallette, the couple began putting their lives back together. At first they planned to rebuild their 2,500-square-foot house across the street from the bay. But then they saw a listing for a nearby 12,000-square-foot parcel on a cove with 180 feet of bulkhead on the bay.
Before the storm, the property had been listed for $1.898 million. But the Marinos bought it in March for $999,000. They plan to tear down the existing 1,600-square-foot brick house and invest about $1 million in a 4,200-square-foot, two-and a-half-story replacement. Outside will be a gazebo and an in-ground pool.
“It’s a phenomenal buying opportunity,” said Mr. Marino, whose family has been summering on the Jersey Shore for generations. “It’s one of the largest bulkheads on the whole island.”
As for the home the storm destroyed, the couple will replace it with a five-bedroom house with 2,800 square feet that they plan to sell for about $900,000. Ms. de França-Marino hopes to reopen her home décor store, the Beach Home, at a new location in Lavallette in time for the Memorial Day rush.