(May 9, 2014) The Ocean City Development Corporation held its annual meeting last week, honoring the group’s membership as well as its extensive and expanding range of re-development incentive programs.
The group’s major achievement – since its incorporation in 2000 as a non-profit foundation – is a record 150 façade renovation projects completed as of this year, with nine more in the works.
The facade initiative – in which OCDC provides a subsidy to property owners renovating the exteriors of aging buildings – has moved at a particularly fevered pitch in the last three years, as OCDC’s 100th façade project was completed in 2011.
On Wednesday, OCDC recognized two particular standout projects of the 17 done in 2013. The Marina Deck restaurant at 306 Dorchester Street, owned by Dennis Kalchthaler, was honored along with the Old Town Apartments building at 10 8th Street, owned by Peter and Kozmas Gjikuria.
Under the program, OCDC will pay for one-third, with a cap of $5,000, of the cost of any façade improvements that will better the streetscape of downtown Ocean City. But with this jolt of public funding, many property owners go far beyond what is required of them.
In fact, $5 million of combined private money has gone into the 150 projects, far exceeding the expected ratio of public-to-private dollars.
OCDC also offers a number of incentives for other types of renovation as well as new construction. Over the past three years, the group has sponsored 37 projects under the Green Building Initiatives Program., with over $500,000 of private investment.
This program uses the same funding schedule as the façade program to sponsor energy-efficiency improvements, making many older structures more habitable in both summer and winter.
Additionally, OCDC backed a $90,000 state grant this past year for the demolition and reconstruction of the condemned building at Talbot Street and Baltimore Avenue, which is owned by Fat Daddy’s Restaurant.
Fat Daddy’s owner Ed Braude was honored for the project, which now contains a larger restaurant and separate retail space as well as a 40-bed housing area for seasonal employees.
Also honored for new construction was the residential building at 5 12th Street, owned by the Hetrick family. Captain Bill Bunting’s Angler Restaurant at 312 Talbot Street, owned by the Bunting family, was also honored for renovation work, as was the Romarletta/Korrell house at 611 Baltimore Avenue, owned by Capt. Harry Korrell.
OCDC’s newest initiative is the Business Assistance Program, which sponsors interior build-outs of existing buildings for new commercial uses. Three projects have been done so far, with De Lazy Lizard Brew Pub being honored for the rehabilitation of the former Melvin’s Steakhouse on First Street and Philadelphia Avenue.
OCDC also recognized its own leadership during last week’s meeting at Shenanigan’s on the Boardwalk. Six board members were inducted, with four incumbents – C. Terry Hough, Jay Knerr, Patricia Ilczuk-Lavanceau, and Reid Tingle – and two newcomers, Bryon Davis and Jesse Houston.
Board members G. Hale Harrison and John Gehrig were also recognized for their length of service. Outgoing board member and retiring County Commissioner Louis Gulyas was given this year’s Individual Award for her support and advocacy. OCDC also honored the Downtown Association of Ocean City as one of its constituent groups.
As a non-profit, OCDC draws funding for its programs through grants and donations, including the annual golf tournament fundraiser, which will be held Oct. 2 this year. OCDC also receives considerable grant funding from federal, state, and county agencies, and is given a cut of parking meter revenue at the inlet lot per an agreement with the Town of Ocean City.
OCDC will also continue to sponsor community re-vitalization initiatives such as public art projects, bike racks, and business directory signs on the Boardwalk. The group also holds a Thursday concert series at Sunset Park on Worcester Street, car shows at the Somerset Street Plaza, and the annual “Clean Sweep” trash pickup.