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Ocean Voyager, Pirate’s Den get wrecking ball

Demolition crews began work to clear the Ocean Voyager Motel on 32nd Street Tuesday. The project makes space for a new hotel, set to open under the La Quinta Inn & Suites name early next summer, owner Sal Fasano said. (Clara Vaughn)

(Sept. 13, 2013) A project is off the ground, or on it, to raze the Ocean Voyager Motel on the block between 32nd and 33rd streets to make way for a new hotel. Demolition started Tuesday with several wings of the motel flattened by 2 p.m.

Though the project just started, it’s been on the minds of owners Sal Fasano and Sal Fasano Jr. for about three years. The demolition clears a site for a hotel to be flagged under La Quinta Inn & Suites.

“It’s bittersweet because this is the hotel where I grew up working with my father, but now we’re looking forward to new things,” Fasano Jr. said.

The family bought the Ocean Voyager in 1998, though the motel dated back to the 1950s or ‘60s, he said. It was a basic economy motel with standard rooms — a few beds, a refrigerator and a television — and had “seen better days,” Fasano Jr. said.

The new hotel will be a full-service, three or three-and-a-half star lodge with 101 rooms, from standard rooms to suites and efficiencies outfitted with full kitchens. There will be a gym, laundry facilities, a pool, a 50-seat breakfast buffet and a restaurant run by the hotel —“all the regular amenities,” Fasano Jr. said.

The family chose La Quinta as its partner in part because of the franchise’s flexibility on the project. The group modified its standard hotel rooms to include balconies for the Fasanos’ project, for example.

“From the get go, we wanted to have this hotel flagged,” Fasano Jr. said. “After doing our research, we felt that they (La Quinta) were the best fit for us and we were the best fit for them.”

The family bought into the franchise, giving them access to the La Quinta name, the group’s marketing and advertising services and access to La Quinta’s centralized system for making online reservations.

The financing for the project came wholly from the Fasanos, though.

They hired Harkins Concrete Construction, Inc. and Keith Fisher Architecture, both based in Salisbury, because “these guys are all very experienced,” Fasano Jr. said. “They’ve all done major projects in town so we’re very comfortable with them, and we’re very confident in them that they’re going to be able to deliver this project — barring any weather catastrophes — on time.”

The goal is to start driving piling for the new hotel at the end of the month, with construction completed in May or June 2014, he said.

“For construction projects here in Ocean City, usually it’s very tight because of the weather and also the different requirements the city puts forth, but we are shooting for delivery date of May 31,” Fasano Sr. said.

In all, the new hotel will be worth an estimated $16 million.

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