MARGATE – A longtime Chinese restaurant the locals often refer to as Billy Ho’s was demolished last week to make room for a new mixed use development. The restaurant at the corner of Douglas and Ventnor avenues most recently operated as Liang’s Imperial East but has been closed for several years.

The property owner, SAJ Associates, LLC, demolished the restaurant, which is located in the city’s Central Business District, before the city begins enforcement of its summertime demolition moratorium.

Building Inspector James Galantino said Tuesday that the only permit issued so far is the demolition permit, however, SAJ attorney Christopher M. Baylinson said the group plans to build according to a negotiated settlement with the Margate Planning Board that was approved Aug. 31, 2023.

The board twice denied, with votes of 7-1 and 6-1, SAJ’s requests for site plan approvals. SAJ then filed a lawsuit in Superior Court stating that their second denial of a “by right” application that required no variances was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”

The settlement agreed to following an executive session on Aug. 31 included reconfiguration of the residentials units located above commercial space on the first floor and a reduction in the number of bedrooms contained in each unit.

The residences were reconfigured into flats instead of stacked townhouses and will have three bedrooms in each unit instead of four. There will be 2,880 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.

Rendering for proposed devleopment at 7800 Ventnor Ave.

The board voted unaniomously to grant the variance needed for the number of parking spaces – four for the commercial space and nine for the residences, including one that is ADA-compliant. A variance was granted for building height, which is 3.2 feet higher than required by ordinance.

Baylinson said he is unsure of when construction would commence.

Liang’s Imperial East

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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.