It was a “happy occasion” on Thursday, July 1, as Millville Mayor Don Minyon and Deputy Mayor Gerry Hocker broke ground on the latest phase of Millville By the Sea, along with officials from the large scale development’s new builder, Virginia-based Christopher Companies.
Also on hand was Chuck Ellison of Miller & Smith, the developer, who will be handling community development.
“Christopher is just responsible for building houses; I get to do everything else, no matter what it is. I mean, if the bathroom at the pool needs to be cleaned and they can’t find anybody else, I get to go do it,” joked Ellison. “But seriously, what we’ll be doing is looking at the overall community — community plans, recreation plans, the amenities package, overall landscaping plans, building the pool complex, all those sorts of things.”
The reception for the ground breaking took place at the Sand Dollar Village Pool Pavilion of Millville by the Sea.
“Over the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of change here,” acknowledged Ellison. “We like to think it’s change for the positive.”
Minyon also spoke at the July 1 groundbreaking, noting that, although the planned community has had a rough start, the town is excited about a new beginning with Christopher Companies.
“From the start of this project many years ago, the town was always excited about this planned community,” said Minyon. “Over the years, with the economy and everything, things didn’t take off as well as we thought they would. However, I’m really pleased that Christopher Builders signed on to build homes for this project. We had checked them out online and checked with several people who worked with them.
“You guys have a really good reputation,” Minyon told Ellison, “and we’re really pleased so we’re hoping to pick up the pieces and continue. With Chuck at the helm, I think we can do that.”
Ground was broken this week to commence the start of construction for approximately 2,800 units, ranging from townhouses and condominiums to single-family homes.
Ellison, who joined the project in February, said he has been enjoying his time in Millville.
“This has been a wonderful experience for me. I come from a small town, and getting back into working with a small town has been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
With the new builders on board, replacing Gulfstream Homes, the exiting model homes located on Route 17 will no longer be offered within the development. Ellison said he has not determined their fate but hopes they will not go to waste.
“I haven’t decided yet,” he explained. “You know, I’ve had so many other things to do that, in my mind, have a higher priority, that I just put that decision off until after Labor Day. We’re not building those models anymore, but I’m the kind of guy that I just hate to waste things. So if I can find some adapted reuse for them, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll look to do that first.”
Whatever is decided about the structures’ fate, Miller & Smith have already donated some of their interior fixtures to Millville Town Hall, for its planned expansion.
“We’re helping the town with their new building that they’re putting up. Their architect has been down to measure our kitchen and their kitchens to figure out a way to make it all come together. So they are going to take cabinets and some of the appliances,” said Ellison.
With construction now fully under way, Millville by the Sea is now getting a second life.
“The town is excited about this new beginning, and I hope everyone here is excited as well,” said Minyon.