From the APP:
It’s looking like the good ol’ days on Long Beach Island, before there was a Great Recession and such a thing as a superstorm.
Nearly two years ago the barrier island represented some of the worst of Superstorm Sandy’s destruction: collided homes, leaking gas mains and debris-strewn streets. The October 2012 storm rang up $23.3 million in damage to 2,100 homes, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency data.
Now, the island is more than just rebuilding — it is seeing a wave of new construction. Demand for new homes is high, experts and real estate officials say, thanks in part to new elevation requirements and a federal dune replenishment project seen as a strong front line of defense in the case of another monster storm.
Towns up and down the barrier island have seen the most new construction in years, officials say. By the end of summer, more than 420 new building permits had been issued among the island’s six municipalities since 2013, according to local and state Department of Community Affairs data. Most of those — 302 — were written in Long Beach Township, the largest municipality on the 18-mile long island, according to the data. New building permits are for new homes; additions and alterations get separate permits.
Property data show the number of vacant lots on the island increased, from about 1,400 in 2012, the year of the storm, to about 1,700 this year, suggesting more opportunities to build. Those figures may include lots where a home was demolished or land was subdivided.
“We’re busy. Everybody’s busy,” Long Beach Township Clerk Lynda J. Wells said.
That includes real estate agents, who say they noticed interest pick up about six to eight months after the storm.
“It became evident that the market was on a pretty fast track and it’s remained on a pretty fast track,” said Rick Jones, a real estate agent with G. Anderson Agency.
“People who have always wanted to be part of the home ownership of LBI are taking the chance now; there’s properties on the market that hadn’t been on the market before,” said Maggie O’Neill, an agent for the Mary Allen Realty. “Some people have said, ‘OK, I’m done,’ and the new regime is coming in. And a lot of people say, ‘You know, it was a once-in-a-lifetime storm and we’re going to roll the dice.’”