Cape May Vision Plans

Cape May and West Cape May Public Realm Vision Plans
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LOCATION: Cape May, New Jersey

Situated at the tip of southern New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic, Cape May is America’s oldest seaside resort town. It began as an 18th century holiday destination for residents of Philadelphia. By the mid 19th century it was considered one of the nation’s premier resorts. A fire razed whole blocks of the community in 1878. Bounding back, most of the new construction was the highly ornate Victorian of the period, painted in vibrant colors. Today, Cape May has the most extensive collection of Victorian homes in America outside of San Francisco. The entire city of Cape May is designated a National Historic Landmark. Preservation enthusiasts have ensured that much of the rich Victorian architectural heritage will be maintained. However, as the city ages, its infrastructure, its streets and sidewalks, its provisions for public open space and visitor amenities, its beachfront – its public realm – needs greater attention.

Ed Hamm, working with the Rhodeside & Harwell team , was the urban design lead for the development of the vision plans to guide improvements to the public realm of Cape May and West Cape May. Community participation was vital to the process. He developed an intensive community engagement program involving workshops, multiple stakeholder interviews, surveys, public open houses and public presentations. He facilitated the community outreach process, produced the analytical mapping and graphics, and made a set of urban design proposals. The vision plan addressed issues of ongoing environmental and historic resource preservation, maintenance of neighborhood character, needs for physical improvements to public open spaces, zoning problems and urban design goals.