OCEAN CITY – Spirits were high on Wednesday afternoon as Gov. Martin O’Malley visited downtown Ocean City to celebrate the 100th facade project completed.
During this week’s ceremony marking the accomplishment, O’Malley said he values the many memories he has of Ocean City growing up and as his memories grow so does his appreciation for the resort’s business community.
“You put in work every single day here,” he said. “The business people that are here put in the additional work to build up this great destination of Ocean City.”
The Ocean City Development Corporation’s (OCDC) Facade Program provides financial assistance to property owners and businesses to renovate the exterior of their buildings. The assistance is a matching amount. The program is funded by grants from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
“I’ll tell you the difference OCDC has made … it has helped maintain our property values in downtown Ocean City, it has helped downtown Ocean City redevelop, and it has been a great adventure, and I am very thrilled that we have been part of it,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.
The Buckingham Hotel, owned by Spiro Buas, was the 100th building renovated under OCDC’s Façade Improvement Program.
“This project was a long time coming and it needed it,” Buas said.
The 36-unit hotel’s exterior improvements include new cement siding and trim and the entire building and new trim was painted. Also, new windows were installed, a full porch was rebuilt and new landscaping was completed.
“Since the completion of this project [Buckingham Hotel], other façade projects have been completed downtown and in this area this summer it is pushing the total investment in downtown to $4 million,” OCDC President Todd Ferrante said.
O’Malley said it is people like Baus that have the faith in Ocean City’s future to invest today and to create construction jobs for others.
“In order to create jobs and monitor the economy, the economy needs modern investments and that is why this façade program is such a good program,” he said.
O’Malley said Ocean City has completed the most façade projects in the State of Maryland and record numbers were set last year in the amount of domestic tourists attracted to the state, most coming to Ocean City.
“That’s jobs,” he said. “That’s not only jobs in the service industry, not only jobs in restaurants, not only jobs in hotels, but also the jobs, 330 of them, that were supported in the construction trade that completed these 100 facades.”
O’Malley added that Worcester County holds 7,200 jobs just in tourism which accounts for one out of every 20 tourism dollars that come into the state.
“Whether or not we are starting to feel confident again as people … we can start spending dollars again, we can start breathing a little more deeply and we can start making the investments that bring us a better state, that bring us a better return of a dollar, that can bring us a better economy, and that is what it really all about,” he said. “Our best days are in front of us and you see that every day and in every way here in Ocean City.”