Stanhope House owner weighs options

STANHOPE. The borough’s Land Use Board designates the site as an ‘area in need of redevelopment,’ and a consultant creates a redevelopment plan.

| 11 Dec 2023 | 08:17

The initial redevelopment plan for the property at 45 Main St. in Stanhope, site of the Stanhope House, calls for new retail and residential uses to strengthen the existing retail areas along Main Street.

Built in the 1790s, the Stanhope House had served as a private home, stagecoach stop, general store, post office, tavern, rooming house and hotel until 1970, when it became a legendary blues venue that hosted performers such as Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The venue, while still active, is a shell of its former self, and options for the future of the property are being discussed.

After it was approached earlier this year by Jon Klein of BGK Realty Group, the property’s owner, the borough’s Land Use Board designated the site as an “area in need of redevelopment,” and a redevelopment plan was put together in October by Bowman Consulting Group of Parsippany.

According to the plan:

• Permitted uses for the property include multifamily residential use, retail sales of goods on the ground floor and services, such as a bank, barbershop, professional offices, etc. Parking amenities, including electric car parking, would support the site.

• Prohibited uses include a gas station, drive-thru establishments, laundromats, convalescent homes/adult and child day-care, third-party cell-phone tower and “adult” entertainment.

Klein, who has owned the property since 2010, said he spent the better part of the past five years trying to bring in a buyer, acquire grant money and establish a not-for-profit organization for the educational community to conduct tutorials on the blues.

“We’ve tried any number of things; we went on GoFundMe looking for donations to do that which was necessary to make sure that the building would get to being structurally efficient rather than deficient,” he said.

“We’ve tried virtually everything over the last five years and now we are to the point where this redevelopment zoning will probably be the best thing that can happen for everybody. I believe there will be a January meeting with the town where the future of the Stanhope House and its legacy will be discussed in depth.”

Online petition

Cristy Benvenutti, president of the North Jersey Blues Society, has been working to save the Stanhope House.

More than 2,100 people have signed an online petition on, opposing demolition of the building.

A preliminary application to add the Stanhope House to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places is in the works, Benvenutti said.

“I have contacted all the blues societies in the United States, the local historical societies, District 24 Senator Steven Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblyman Harold ‘Hal’ Wirths, media outlets, national blues musicians and record labels pleading for help. I continue to monitor the Borough of Stanhope council agendas and will attend the meetings. I also plan to canvas the neighborhood residents and businesses for feedback.”

Borough Clerk and Land Use Board Secretary Ellen Horak said the Bowman plan has been presented to borough officials but has not been voted on by the mayor and council and there are no immediate plans to do so.

Klein first approached the borough to see if the property qualified as an “area in need of development.”

“The proposed Bowman plan has not been adopted by the mayor or council,” Horak said. “There is no application before the Land Use Board for the Stanhope House, nor is it on any agenda for the month of December. When the time comes, the mayor and council will vote to adopt or not adopt and there will be public discussion as part of that process.”

Klein said he was contractually prohibited from commenting further on the matter, but he offered a message to the community:

“We are deeply touched and grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the future of the Stanhope House. Your passion for our venue means the world to us and is a testament to the incredible community we’ve built together.

“At this time, we find ourselves navigating through various contractual obligations that prevent us from providing detailed insight into our current situation. However, please know that we are actively evaluating all the options with careful consideration aiming to arrive at a solution that serves the best interest of all involved.

“Your unwavering support has been an incredible source of strength and motivation for us during this period of evaluation. We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we work diligently behind the scenes. Rest assured, our commitment to providing a vibrant and unforgettable experience remains steadfast. We are exploring every avenue to ensure the legacy of the Stanhope House continues in the most positive and impactful manner.”

We’ve tried virtually everything over the last five years and now we are to the point where this redevelopment zoning will probably be the best thing that can happen for everybody.”
- Jon Klein of BGK Realty Group,
owner of the Stanhope House