OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) last week acquired the latest piece in its proposed “model block” puzzle when the City Council approved the purchase of a property on Dorchester Street. The council on Monday approved the purchase of the two-story apartment building at 105 Dorchester Street for $410,000. Funding for the purchase was provided from revenue derived from the Inlet parking lot and continues the resort’s effort to purchase property in the immediate area for its model block program under the direction of the OCDC.
Thus far, the town of Ocean City has been able to acquire multiple properties in the Dorchester Street area in piecemeal fashion with the hopes of one day being able revitalizing the entire area. While the council approved the purchase of the Dorchester Street property, not all in attendance were in favor of the acquisition.
For example, former Ocean City Council candidate and Dorchester Street resident Nick Campagnoli questioned the intent of the model block program.
“I’m beginning to wonder what the model block program is,” he said. “I keep hearing you talk about the model block over and over, but nobody seems to know what it is.”
The model block is an area identified as between Somerset and Dorchester streets to the north and south and Philadelphia and Baltimore avenues to the west and east. The goal is for the city to eventually own all of the property on the block in the interest of a larger revitalization project.
To date, the city has purchased about half of the properties in the model block area and Monday’s approved purchase moves the initiative one step closer to fruition. Funding for the program has come from a variety of sources over the years, mainly from the town and grants applied for and received by the OCDC.
Mayor Rick Meehan said the program is an initiative started several years ago and the town has been in the process of purchasing property.
“The model block program was created by the OCDC and the goal is to accumulate an entire block of property downtown at some point in time and offer it to a developer for revitalization,” he said. “The plan is to systematically purchase property when it becomes available and create something that can be attractive downtown.”
After some discussion, the council approved the purchase of the Dorchester Street property with Councilman Joe Hall abstaining because his family owns property in the area and Councilwoman Margaret Pillas opposed for budgetary reasons.
“I’m voting no on this,” said Pillas. “I’m voting for not purchasing property in this economy.”