LONG BRANCH, NJ-It started out as a list of a dozen top developers, was whittled down to three, and now K. Hovnanian Enterprises has gotten the nod from the city council as the redeveloper of choice for the 12-acre Beachfront South tract. The other finalists were the Kushner Cos. of Florham Park and Denholtz Associates of Rahway.

Officially, the designated redeveloper is K. Hovnanian Shore Acquisitions LLC, an affiliate of the Middletown-based K. Hovnanian Enterprises. And the project is massive–its estimated price tag of $320 million dwarfs the two other redevelopment projects currently rising on this city’s oceanfront. The Beachfront North project, which is largely residential, is costing an estimated $150 million. And Pier Village, a mostly retail and entertainment component rising between the two, has been pegged at $100 million.

For that estimated $320 million, Hovnanian will create a largely residential complex of 350 units in five buildings. Plans are conceptual at this point–the project still requires planning board approval–but it will average 70 units per building, almost all of them with ocean views. Other amenities will include a private clubhouse, two swimming pools and other recreational facilities, according to architect Thomas Bauer of Melillo & Bauer. The Point Pleasant-based firm developed the project’s conceptual plans.

According to local officials, the city will reap a quick $10 million in the form of an initial payment for the development rights. Under the terms of the selection process, city officials and Hovnanian have 120 days, or until early December, to work out a developer’s agreement.

Work could begin next year, according to local officials. One issue that has raised some controversy during the selection process is the displacement of some two dozen existing commercial and residential properties, many of them owner-occupied, within the designated redevelopment site.

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