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Often Small is Beautiful in Downtown Ocean City

Generally, the projects that receive the most attention are often the large projects in Ocean City.  These projects are perceived to have a significant impact; often positive and sometimes less than positive.  Large projects are praised for their potential tax benefits (property tax, room tax, food and beverage tax, …), employment generation, business opportunities, and more.  But they are often criticized for other items such as traffic generation, new parking demands, additional demand on area affordable housing, conflicting building scale and massing with adjacent properties, and more. 

However, at this time, if one was to walk around downtown Ocean City, they would view a number of smaller and medium sized projects occurring; both new construction and renovation of existing structures.  These projects are happening on single and double sized lots.  Often by small developers and frequently Ocean City area locals investing in the OC community.  Their single projects may seem insignificant to many, but these improvements add to the overall urban fabric of the downtown area.  They are often infill projects; too small for a large project, but often just right for a small parcel. Cumulatively, they still provide increases in tax base and employment opportunities benefiting the Town of Ocean City and Worcester County, but tend to be more of an incremental approach to a district and neighborhood.  For this reason, they are more acceptable, but get less attention.

So, let’s highlight several of the projects occurring in the downtown area of Ocean City:

 

100 Talbot Street

This new construction project is being built on a vacant site at a very visible location at the northwest corner of S. Baltimore Avenue and Talbot Street. The former building, called the Taylor House (and Perdue House by others) was demolished about five years ago by a previous owner.  The site plan has been approved and building permit issued includes two buildings on this single lot.  A typical single lot in the downtown area, south of the Route 50 Bridge, is approximately five thousand square feet (50’ x 100’).  The proposed buildings will be four stories in height and will provide rental units.  The project has been slow to proceed due to material delays, but is scheduled to be completed for the 2024 summer season.

100 Talbot Street project rendering

407 Edgewater Avenue

407 Edgewater Avenue under construction

Currently under construction is a small two-story project that will be used for rental housing. Each of these two units (one per floor) will contain about 730 square feet and each will have two bedrooms.  The new building will follow the foot print of the original building.  It’s a simple design with a gabled roof and a fiber cement board exterior. The project has been moving along nicely.  It is expected to completed in early 2024.

 

 

 

 

206 N. Division Street 

This is the site of the former Bridgeview Apartments at the entrance of the Route 50 Bridge into Ocean City. The former building had numerous code violations and was eventually demolished.  The new owner received site plan and building permit approvals for a building with four townhouses on this lot.  The units will contain bottom floor garage parking and two upper living area floors with a gross living area of between 1,400 and 1,600 square feet.   These units are expected to be completed for the 2024 summer season.

206 N. Division Street under construction 

 

 

206 N. Division Street rendering

 

 

 

1505 St. Louis Avenue

 

This six-unit condominium project, named the Son Rays Villas, was recently completed and the units are available for sale. These units are being marketed as luxury waterfront condos with open floor plans. They have three or four bedrooms and up to four baths.  They range in size from 1,600 to 2,300 square feet.  This project was built on two lots; one had been previously improved with a residential building.

 

View of 1505 St. Louis Avenue from the west (water side).

 

 

 

 

1801 Philadelphia Avenue

1801 Philadelphia Avenue under construction. North elevation from Kingfish Street.

 

This property is located at the northwest corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Kingfish Street. Construction is underway for this office building that will be the new home of the Harrison Group.
The building will contain about 9,000 square feet of commercial office space.  This attractive two-story building is expected to be completed in early 2024.  The previous use on this property was a miniature golf course (Nick’s Mini Golf) that is relocating several streets to the north of this property.

                                   1801 Philadelphia Avenue west view from Phil. Avenue

Philadelphia Avenue and 21st Street

Nick’s Mini Golf under construction

This property will be the new home of Nick’s Mini Golf, which is relocating from 1801 Philadelphia Avenue. This site plan was recently approved and construction is underway.  It will contain a mini-golf course as well as an obstacle course.  Its parking will be located several lots south along Philadelphia Avenue.  At the planning and zoning meeting, the owner stated he was ready to move ahead on this project as soon as possible, and he is!

217 S. Baltimore Avenue 

217 S. Baltimore Avenue

Several years ago, the Bank of Ocean City closed this branch that operated as the bank’s original location in 1916. The Bank then donated this building and property to the Town of Ocean City.  The Town of Ocean, the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum and Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) are working together to create plans and strategy to renovate this structure into an annex for the Museum.  This renovation project has received several grants and extensive work recently started.  The work will include interior and exterior improvements.  The intent is to restore it to its original 1910 appearance. The work is expected to be completed for the summer 2024. 

OC Lifesaving Station Museum annex rendering at 217 S. Baltimore Avenue

In addition, there are a number of small and extensive building renovation projects underway throughout the downtown area; some with assistance of the OCDC’s Façade Improvement Program and some not.  Also, there are several projects that have been approved by the Town of Ocean City’s Planning and Zoning Commission, however, they have not received a building permit as of this date. 

As evidenced, these smaller and medium sized projects provide diversified uses; rental units, home ownership units, commercial office space, amusement type of use, and even future space for a museum annex.  This is merely a snapshot in time of the current construction and renovation projects underway in the downtown area of Ocean City.  Each of these projects will add to the variety and interest of what makes the OC downtown area so special to residents and visitors.  But keep your eyes peeled next time you walk, ride a bike, or drive through the downtown for these new projects and projects to come!

 

 

Glenn Irwin
Glenn Irwin
Glenn “retired” in March, 2023 after almost 23 years as Executive Director of the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC). The OCDC is a nonprofit organization that is charged with revitalizing downtown Ocean City. It is involved in a variety of projects and programs including renovation of older buildings, public art program, special events, design standards, employee housing, and promoting the downtown and boardwalk. Since stepping aside as the OCDC Executive Director, Glenn continues to be involved in several community organizations. Glenn lives in Ocean City and regularly rides throughout the downtown area and boardwalk for exercise and pleasure several times per week, often year-round, depending on weather conditions. Glenn is our OC Bike Guy and often live streams his downtown rides for oceancity.com as well as takes pictures.

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