In the past few years, West Ocean City has undergone some crucial changes. The 2018-19 season is no different; in an area once served as more of a means of transportation to downtown Ocean City than a destination in itself, the landscape continues to develop in a major way.
Ocean Landings II, a new shopping center behind the Berlin McDonald’s and west of the Walmart Supercenter, opened at least some of its doors last spring and continues to see new restaurants and retail businesses open up shop.
Farther east, Bad Monkey and Tequila Mockingbird have both built their second locations in West OC, with Bad Monkey’s new location off Route 50 still under construction and Tequila Mockingbird now open in the Park Place Plaza, which itself is a brand new shopping center. The Plaza’s flagship store, Park Place Jewelers, is now open, and will celebrate with an official grand opening celebration on Dec. 8. Other businesses in the Park Place Plaza include Dolle’s Candyland and Bank of Delmarva, and two units in the building remain available for restaurant and retail space.
Todd Ferrante, who owns Park Place Jewelers with his wife Jill Ferrante, opened his first jewelry shop on the Boardwalk in 1996. Opening the Park Place Plaza allowed them to finally have a place of their own, he said, and they’re happy to share that place with other local businesses.
“The opening of the Plaza gave the opportunity for other businesses to come to the West Ocean City area, and it was nice to provide that,” Ferrante said.
Because of West Ocean City’s year-round, residential population, he said, businesses like Tequila Mockingbird, Dolle’s, and Bank of Delmarva, all of which have additional locations across the Route 50 bridge, can “fill a void” in a growing market.
In addition to the Park Place Plaza and Ocean Landings II, a Hooper’s Shopping Plaza is under construction on what was once an overflow parking lot for Hooper’s, just before the Route 50 bridge. A new Candy Kitchen is under construction nearby, and in the White Marlin Mall, a Flagship Premium Cinemas will soon take the place of the Michaels that was recently relocated to Ocean Landings II.
“Right now it just seems as if it’s the prime area for development,” said Kathryn Gordon, the Interim Director of Economic Development for Worcester County. “It’s a great location with all the traffic that crosses Route 50, and there’s the residential area of Ocean Pines right there. It just seems like Worcester County as a whole is starting to bring more businesses in.”
Park Place Plaza: Now open — Park Place Jewelers, Dolle’s, Bank of Delmarva, Tequila Mockingbird. Two units remain open for future retail or restaurant tenants.
Hooper’s Shopping Plaza: A 17,350 square foot development is underway in what was once used for Hooper’s overflow parking. The building will be used for office and retail space, and there is already a permit for a Starbucks.
Ocean Landings II (On Samuel Bowen Blvd in Berlin, off Route 50): Now open — PetSmart, IHop, Fox’s Pizza Den, Dollar Tree, Great Clips, Michaels (formerly located in the White Marlin Mall), Ross department store. The shopping center also includes McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Walmart, which first opened its doors in 1999. Space is still available for future tenants.
In addition to the new shopping plazas in West Ocean City, there’s also a permit in place for a new Candy Kitchen just west of the Chipotle off Route 50. Restauranteurs have shown interest in what was once a Wendy’s in the White Marlin Mall, but no permits have yet been issued. A Flagship Premium Cinemas movie theater is slated to open in the White Marlin Mall early 2019.
It was late February of this year when Cole Taustin, Jay Taustin and Frank Raffo initially closed the deal on West Ocean City’s newest restaurant. It was then almost instantly that construction crews came to the scene, appropriate licenses were garnered and in what might be the quickest restaurant turnover in Ocean City history, the old Ocean City Fish Company was transformed into Mad Fish Bar & Grill in just 10 short weeks.