Curtis Bashaw laments shore properties becoming condominiums, yet he has profited from such projects.
Cape May developer Curtis Bashaw, who heads the publicly funded Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance, is the wrong choice to lead the organization.
Bashaw said he recognizes the need to preserve the unique, small-town character of shore towns. Yet he was the first to convert two Cape May motels into luxury condominium hotels. There is a troubling overlap of Bashaw’s for-profit and nonprofit worlds.
Bashaw will resign next week as head of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority after about a year on the job. He leaves that post as questions remain about a CRDA land deal that will benefit a bank that funded some of his Cape May developments.
Last year, Bashaw lamented the redevelopment of shore motels into pricey condominiums. Bashaw contended this could hurt tourism.
“We need our motels and our mini-golf courses and hot dog stands . . . If it all gets razed to make way for condos — many folks may own homes, but they won’t have anything to do,” Bashaw told an Asbury Park audience last year.
Meanwhile, Bashaw and several investment partners recently converted two Cape May motels into the kind of expensive condominiums he claims to oppose.
The Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance — which includes regional tourism councils covering Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties — needs a leader who can live up to his or her words.
Adding to Bashaw’s questionable acts is a 2004 Atlantic City land deal. In April of that year, two months after Bashaw’s appointment to the CRDA by his good friend, former-Gov. James E. McGreevey, the authority approved giving a construction company 11 Atlantic City lots — assessed at $322,700 — for $10.
Vineland Construction is affiliated with Sun National Bank of Vineland, for which it plans to build a bank branch on the property. Sun Bank loaned Bashaw and his business partners $18 million over six years — before and after Bashaw’s appointment to head the CRDA. Bashaw also previously served on the bank’s advisory board and owns Sun Bancorp stock.
Bashaw said no special favors were involved in the Vineland Construction land deal. But it has become difficult to take Bashaw at his word.
That he sees no problem with this deal undermines his credibility as a public official.
Bashaw cannot be relied upon to always put the interest of the shore communities and state taxpayers first as he leads the Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance.
Therefore, he should step down as chairman of the alliance. There should be no question of the organization’s intent. With Bashaw promoting preservation of shore properties and redeveloping them, that intent is not clear.