By Logan Dubel
Glenn Irwin is the fearless leader of downtown Ocean City, with over two decades of experience working to revitalize and develop the area. Whether spearheading projects or working with officials at City Hall, Irwin is one of the most well-connected and busy people in the town.
Role: Executive Director, Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) (2000-Present)
Hometown(s): Long Island, New York, and later, South Florida
First Vacation to Ocean City:
First Job: Development Planner in South Florida
Education: Rowan University, Florida Atlantic University
“If you drive around downtown, you can see our OCDC fingerprints on every building.”
Why OCDC: Twenty years ago, so much scattered development was happening across the town, and city leaders wanted to create a nonprofit organization that would follow design guidelines. We had a path, and that is still the basis of many of our revitalization efforts. We needed to create an identity for downtown.
Irwin’s OCDC is also well-respected because of its “Façade Improvement Program,” which since 2002, has given 248 downtown buildings a facelift.
OCDC Success: We realized early on that we needed success and started downtown upgrades. A strong track record was important, and our small projects were actually some of the most important. By increasing land values, we have really benefitted the town.
Public Art: The white marlin water feature as you come off the Route 50 bridge, our first public art project in 2002, has become a symbol of the town. When people think of Ocean City, they think of that statue. We have symbols at every entrance, and we think it is extremely important to have those. We have partnered with the Art League and Delmarva Power to paint utility boxes to brighten up Ocean City.
Ocean City All Year: The economy is no longer just a summer economy. We are almost a year-round economy and people enjoy coming here in the spring and fall. More and more hotels are coming in and are staying open for more months. It may be colder, but people love visiting the town in the offseason.
In the offseason, it is a small town. All of the sudden our population of 7,000 seems large because many of them go to Florida in the winter. When I moved here in June 2000, I initially thought it was interesting to work with all the businesses and property owners and have those individual interactions. That’s what it all comes down to and remains today. We now have special events like Sunset Park Party Nights and employee housing – we like to say we are Busy OCDC. We have a massive team with partners everywhere and are grateful for their support.
Living in Ocean City: When I first moved here, I was in Ocean Pines and would commute into town. Once you live on the island, you rarely leave, and even though I thought I would always travel to Salisbury or Berlin, I stay in town almost always. I should have initially moved into town 21 years ago! I love being able to ride my bike to work when it’s warm.
Glenn Irwin’s Ocean City Favorites
Favorite Restaurants: Seacrets, M.R. Ducks, and Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon
Favorite Hotels: Park Place Hotel and the Cambria
Must-Stop on the Boardwalk: Kite Loft and Back Shore Brewing Company
Rainy Day Activity: Visit the Life-Saving Station, catch up on work, and go to a bar
Favorite Time of Year: September – the weather is great, and although Bikefest is noisy, it’s a great fundraiser and economic boost
Best View: Sunset Park – quiet area and very peaceful
Every year since I’ve been here has gotten more fun because there is always something new happening. I see that progression continuing, but as this growth happens, we need to address workforce housing. I see Ocean City continuing to move ahead with more fun each year.