Seaside Heights officials & Merge landlord weigh future of property

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SEASIDE HEIGHTS -

The Merge nightclub in Seaside Heights has sat idle and in decay for six summer seasons -- but now it may be headed to court.

A fire tore through the club in 2012, and then Superstorm Sandy swept in. Last month, the roof collapsed, and now engineers say the entire structure could come down and should be demolished.

The property owner Robert Bennett has a private engineer and is looking at possible reconstruction, according to Mayor Tony Vaz.

Bennett says the steel inside the building is fine.

"The owner is a very good businessman," Vaz says of Bennett. "We are trying to work with him."

Bennett has developed other businesses in the borough. He recently finished work on a million-dollar miniature golf course across the street and is also finishing up an ice cream shop and arcade called the Big Scoop.

"When we started to put in the golf course, the mayor said to us, maybe this is the start of what we need to do for the families," Bennett says. 

What's next for the shuttered nightclub is still unclear.

If the borough and Bennett don't reach an agreement, they may face off in court as early as June 22.

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