4 Keyport businesses indefinitely shut down after construction incident condemns building

Photos and video from inside the building show the extensive damage. Tenants say that getting help from anyone seems to be impossible.

Jim Murdoch

May 8, 2024, 9:29 PM

Updated 13 days ago


Four businesses in downtown Keyport are closed indefinitely after construction next door damaged the building, causing it to be condemned.
On April 24, one of the walls collapsed downstairs as construction crews were pouring cement next door. Now, these store owners want answers.
"I am mentally, physically drained and overwhelmed at this point," said Rose Clayton, owner of Regency Management Group.
Clayton's business along with an ice cream shop, a mortgage office and a salon are closed. Officials determined that the building was unsafe after the wall collapsed.
"Apparently they poured concrete, which collapsed the walls and all the wet concrete poured into the office covering all of my equipment, my computers - everything," said Clayton. Photos and video from inside the building show the extensive damage. Tenants say that getting help from anyone seems to be impossible.
"What's going on here is not only destroying the character of the town, it's destroying people and their businesses and they're taking their livelihood away from them," said Vinny Kyne, a fan of the ice cream shop.
Kyne spoke at Tuesday night's council meeting trying to help the owners, but says little was learned.
"When I brought up the subject – crickets - nobody seems to either know about it or care. No plan of action, no contingency. There was nothing in effect," he said.
"We are all out of business. We are all shut down. Some of us can work remote, but that's not 100%," added Clayton.
Borough attorney Vicki Flynn tells News 12 in part, "An engineering report concluded that there was no immediate hazard and work could continue at 31 West Front Street. There is no immediate danger on site. The borough provided tenants [with] contact info to the NJ economic development authority to see what assistance can be provided."
She further says any legal dispute would be between the property owners and insurance companies and the borough and council hopes the state can provide temporary assistance to the displaced tenants.
News 12 also left a message with the construction company but as of now have not heard back. FULL STATEMENT FROM BOROUGH ATTORNEY VICKI FLYNN:
1. The contractor did not contact the police department on the date of the incident. The contractor contacted the construction department and the Borough's local construction official went immediately to the site, and has continued to regularly visit the site and communicate with the property owners.
2. The Borough has not received any notice from OSHA that the site was shut down.
3. The construction company's legal responsibility will be sorted out by any claims brought against it by the adjacent property owners. The Borough has been in communications with DCA which, as of today, has advised the Business Administrator that the local code officials have performed their role in accordance with the law. The legal dispute regarding this construction site will be between the property owners and the insurance companies.
4. It is the Borough's understanding that the building owners are contacting their respective insurance companies. The Borough provided the tenants displaced with contact info for NJEDA to see what assistance can be provided. We hope the State can provide temporary assistance to these displaced tents.
5. The construction department has been in constant communication with the contractor at 31 W Front Street. There was a construction department meeting the day after the incident that included 31 West Front Street, the landlord of 29 West Front Street, the landlord/business owner of 33 West Front Street. They debriefed. It was agreed the construction company/owner of 31 West Front Street would have had an engineering report prepared for the properties. They did have an engineer on site the day after the event. That report concluded that there was no immediate hazard and work could continue at 31 West Front Street. Additional Thoughts:
The Borough Engineer and the Borough's UCC official were on site [Wednesday] morning and did not find any imminent danger on site.
The Borough was made aware that the adjacent property owner is having a forensic engineer inspect the property. That report is forthcoming.
The Borough will be seeking to recoup any additional costs from the developer it incurs in responding to this matter.
The Mayor and Council share in the concerns and frustrations raised by the businesses disrupted by this project and hope they are addressed in the swiftest manner possible.
The Borough is utilizing all public resources available to it to ensure public safety remains a priority for this project.

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