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Façade improvements reach 150 with recent ceremony

(June 13, 2014) The Ocean City Development Corporation marked its 150th Façade Improvement Project downtown Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 11th Street.

June Regan cuts a ribbon with city and state officials Tuesday in front of her newly renovated 11th Street home to celebrate the completion of the Ocean City Development Corporation’s 150th Façade Improvement Project. (Clara Vaughn | Ocean City Today)

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown joined city officials and members of the OCDC in celebrating the revitalization of June Regan’s 1930s home, which has a new roof, Energy Star-rated side shingles and windows thanks in part to a grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Legacy Program.

“It’s a wonderful building,” Brown said. “This is a great project and this is a great day for Ocean City.”

The OCDC’s Façade Improvement Project started in 2002, Executive Director Glenn Irwin said. Since then, it has given more than $700,000 in grants to help improve buildings in Ocean City’s downtown district.

But the grants have generated far more than $700,000 in economic impact, he said. To get a grant, building owners must match each dollar provided by the state with $2 of their own.

“So if someone wants to get $5,000 of assistance, they have to complete a project of $15,000 or more,” Irwin said, although the projects average a much higher private-to-public dollars ratio.

President of the OCDC Bob Givarz said every state dollar is matched five-, six- or seven-fold in the Façade Improvement Project, calling it a “win-win” for private business- and homeowners and the state.

Since it’s inception, the program has generated more than $5 million in investment in revitalizing the downtown district, Irwin said.

Statewide since 2007, the Community Legacy Program has given more than $41 million in similar grants to 440 projects, according to Brown. That’s created 3,000 temporary jobs and 1,300 permanent positions, he said.

With more than 130,000 Marylanders employed in Ocean City and tourism on the rise, he called this town “one of Maryland’s most important and historic communities.”

Regan, who’s owned the house on 11th Street since 1979, said the grant gave her the “push” she needed to fixed up the exterior of the home she’s shared with her five children and 16 grandchildren.

“It’s a wonderful program. It gives homeowners the incentive to do something,” she said.

“I wanted to make it as it was in its day… It’s absolutely wonderful to bring back the charm of these older buildings.”

Regan replaced a leaking roof as well as the siding shingles to resemble the original, historic home.

“This is a legacy that I could leave my children,” she said.

Buildings in Ocean City’s historic downtown — the area between the inlet and 17th Street — are eligible for Façade Improvement Project grants. Applications come in on a rolling basis, Irwin said. The program has helped revitalize such buildings as the Buckingham Hotel in the past.

The OCDC organizes other revitalization projects, including public art and the new street lights along St. Louis Avenue.

Learn more about the OCDC and its projects at www.ocdc.org.

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