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Alyson Grala is the new associate editor, New Jersey region.

DIAMOND BEACH, NJ-Set to launch in early summer 2009, work is under way for the 125-unit first phase of the Grand at Diamond Beach residential condos. The project is located on 1,500 feet of private oceanfront property at 9600 Atlantic Ave. between Cape May and Wildwood.

Chester, PA-based developer Mita Management scooped up the beachfront property, which previously housed the Seapointe Hotel, in spring 2003, from the Masserella family. The Grand at Diamond Beach won approval in late 2007 and preliminary work began earlier this year.

And while the site has changed hands over the years, it has remained as a rare piece of private beachfront thanks to a 1908 land deal. Eustace Mita, chairman of Mita Management, says that “the federal government wanted to acquire 1,500 feet of bayfront for facility development. The owners did not want to sell, but agreed to release the property in a trade for 1,500 feet of oceanfront.”

He adds that among the eight members making up then-owner Cape May Land Co. were Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. And while beaches up and down the New Jersey coast have been returned to public ownership, this particular stretch has remained private, allowing Mita to build the residential structure 100 yards further out than other shoreline properties.

For its project, Mita has financial backing from the Washington, DC-based private equity firm the Carlyle Group. Achristavest, an affiliate of Mita, and Akseizer Design Group are designing it; Annapolis, MD-based Diamond Beach Development LLC is assisting with the development; and Wildwood Crest, NJ-based Oceanside Realty and the New York City-based Corcoran Group are marketing it.

The 12-story, tiered structure will feature one-story, two-story and three-story residences, each with a private veranda. The build-out also calls for a fully-furnished lobby, an oceanfront community room and a beach club.

Looking ahead to phases two and three, Mita has received local approvals for a six-story, 62-unit building and eventually plans to construct a second 12-story structure. Mita did not respond by deadline to inquiries about the cost of the first phase or the total project.

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