County: Cape May County
Located at the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May Point still resembles its original roots as the Presbyterian retreat “Sea Grove” established in 1875. Incorporated as Cape May Point in 1878, this friendly borough of 285 residents and 0.3 square miles is a beach community with a diversity of housing, irregular street patterns, and historical landscaping. Thirty-three percent of the buildings were built before 1955, and landmarks such as Lake Lilly, Cape May Point Park and the Cape May Lighthouse make visiting a wonderful experience. While many of those who visit Cape May may consider Cape May Point a neighborhood of Cape May, the two communities are in fact distinct municipalities with their own governments and standards. While Cape May is protected by a strong district designation and local HPC, Cape May Point currently has neither.
Many of the buildings in Cape May Point have undergone changes without diminishing architectural merit which contributes to the borough’s distinct community character that deserves protection. The threats to Cape May Point are through beach erosion, and demolition and redevelopment. Cape May Point does not have a preservation ordinance, a historic preservation commission, or architectural design guidelines. Increased property values may result in changes to the size, setback, height, and facade rhythm of buildings in Cape May Point’s historic neighborhoods. Additionally, the borough’s master plan opines that new restrictive ordinances imposed upon older buildings are an unjust economic hardship to their owners – a problematic statement.
Cape May Point has an historic preservation element in their master plan and Preservation New Jersey supports the strategies, including establishing a Historic Preservation Commission, voluntary cooperation of property owners and municipal agencies to encourage successful historic preservation, educating the public about historic preservation issues, and maintaining a list of properties that meet the criteria that apply to local historic sites. To help Cape May Point’s residents afford historically appropriate improvements and rehabilitation work, Preservation New Jersey strongly supports the recently enacted statewide Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.