OCEAN CITY – Although the Royalton Hotel has faced minor setbacks in its renovations recently and has made temporary repairs in order to make it through the summer season, come September the building may face demolishment.
According to Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) Executive Director Glenn Irwin, the old hotel with Boardwalk fronting retail stores was built in 1927 by Harry and Ethel Kelley, who were the parents of former Ocean City Mayor Harry Kelley. The northern attached building was constructed in the 1930’s.
On Tuesday, Chief Building Official Kevin Brown explained that on May 5 of this year he inspected the building in accordance with the International Property Maintenance Code and found it in poor and unstable condition.
“I had written them a violation notice of eminent danger of collapse and ordered an emergency repair immediately,” Brown said. “The structure was posted unsafe and unfit for human occupancy.”
Brown ordered the Royalton property owners to employ a structural engineer and to have the engineer give a report on the foundation of the building. Royalton properties hired ABBA Engineering LLC, out of Mardela Springs.
“We did receive a report from a structural engineer that it was in serious need of repair, structural repair because some of the pilings under the building had rotted,” Brown said. “Basically, the bottom of the piles were so rotted that they were no longer capable of any load bearing capabilities.”
According to Brown, the structural engineer ordered to have temporary shoring and cable bracing constructed under the building.
“That was all done so structurally right now the building is safe,” Brown said. “We have an engineer’s certification that the building is structurally sound at this time, although the repairs are temporary, the building will need to be re-evaluated come September.”
Brown added that there were several other inspections preformed on the property, such as electrical, plumbing, and Fire Marshal Inspections. He said there were some violations but they have also been corrected and completed.
“They are telling me they wish to demolish this structure after Sept. 30. I am asking for a re-evaluation of the structure at that time anyway,” Brown said.
Brown said that all the necessary repairs and corrections have been made and the building has re-opened for occupancy, although there are still ongoing renovations in the works at this time.
“Bottom line is if I was really concerned, and did not have the backing of a structural engineer certifying the building was safe for occupancy structurally, they would not be occupying the building,” he said.
The Royalton Hotel is also taking part in the OCDC façade program. A few weeks ago, Irwin added that the owners of the building are investing a significant amount of money for the needed improvements.
With OCDC’s assistance through the façade program, the Royalton Hotel’s improvement project includes new vinyl siding, windows, doors, balconies along 11th Street, railings, and a new ramp. Besides the façade program, the hotel has also taken part in the OCDC Green Building Initiatives Program. Many of the new windows and doors are energy star rated to increase the buildings energy efficiency.
“Now with the façade stuff, we only pay them once the work is done, so if the work doesn’t get done they don’t get paid,” Irwin said “We still have the money set aside for their façade program so hopefully they will work it out but I know pilings issues can get expensive too.”
Irwin said the Royalton will not be able to participate in the OCDC’s façade program if the building is demolished. The program is only for existing buildings.
“We do have in our façade program that we record for every project that if they sell or demolish a building within two years we get paid back our façade assistance,” Irwin said. “So we have a safe guard in there. We have never had to use it before but we put it in there to provide us some protection.”
Irwin said the Royalton is not considered a historical building because it is not listed on the National Historic Building Registry. He added that because it is an older building it would be an asset to have the building restored to satisfy the city’s concerns over the structural issues.
“It is going to be a beautiful building when it’s done but there is going to have to be additional repairs that will have to be done this fall or winter on the building if they wish to keep the building,” Brown said.