OCEAN CITY — This week’s 13th Annual Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) meeting gave the organization an opportunity to re-cap what it’s accomplished in 2012.
By all accounts, it was a fast-paced year filled with significant grant funding awarded and several long-term projects going strong. Additionally, the OCDC presented nine awards to individuals and property owners.
The façade revitalization program continued in 2012 culminating in 19 façade projects in downtown Ocean City with another eight currently in the works. To date, the program has helped renovate 138 downtown buildings, representing a total investment of $4.7 million in Ocean City’s downtown district.
Besides façades, OCDC has made a push in recent years to encourage the conversion of business and private properties to more “green” or energy efficient layouts.
“Two years ago, the OCDC kicked off its new Green Building Initiatives Program funded through grant monies from the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development,” said OCDC President Bob Givarz. “This program provides incentives for business and property owners to make their buildings more energy efficient such as installing Energy Star rated windows and doors and additional installation. To date, 18 projects have been completed and five more are underway.”
Both the façade improvement program and the conversion to energy efficient properties are heavily reliant on grant funding. In 2012, the OCDC received two Community Legacy grant awards from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. The $150,000 awarded will be applied to the continuation of the façade improvement efforts, the Green Building Initiatives Program, a new Business Assistance Program as well as decorative street lighting on St. Louis Ave.
Another grant to the tune of $90,000 was also received from Maryland’s Smart Growth and Impact Fund. Money from that will be used toward the demolition and pre-development costs of the new Fat Daddy’s mixed use project on Baltimore Ave.
“That will end up being not only Fat Daddy’s sub and sandwich shop, we’ll have another retail store that will provide employee housing on the upper floors,” said Givarz. “It is a multi-use project; it is exactly what we want to see going on in downtown.”
That $90,000 is part of a larger $2.5 million that the state distributed to nine different projects in Maryland in March with the expectation that those funds will leverage $30 million in public and private investment.
OCDC also saw continued cooperation with the town of Ocean City. Three lots that the organization had originally purchased in 2011 and subsequently converted to parking are slated as the location for the new Ocean City Beach Patrol headquarters
“The proposed new headquarters of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, long overdue, is coming to fruition hopefully in the next year,” Givarz said.
Support from the Mayor and Council, which Givarz called “proactive,” will be critical towards developing that headquarters.
Additionally, for the sixth consecutive year, OCDC will be managing housing for a number of town employees, with 32 beach patrol members and 10 police department employees spread out amongst four OCDC houses. The organization is responsible for managing housing for 15 percent of beach patrol seasonal members.
Givarz then spoke about an expansion OCDC made last year when it absorbed the Boardwalk Development Association (BDA) and rechristening it the Boardwalk Committee. He gave a nod to the town for their efforts on the Boardwalk renovation and the new comfort station and entertainment stage that is nearing completion at Caroline Street.
There were also a number of fundraising or town promoting events that OCDC took part in during 2012. Those include public arts projects like painted utility boxes around town as well as a plein air art contest in August when OCDC will be sponsoring the Quick Draw contest. Sunset Party Nights, a collaborative effort between OCDC, Ocean City, and several nonprofit organizations, will also continue this summer. The first party night will take place on June 20 with a special concert co-sponsored with 98.1 Irie Radio.
On a related note, OCDC will be working with the OC Cruzers and Somerset Plaza merchants to provide music at each of the eight Cruzer events to be held on the pedestrian-only Somerset Street.
“The OCDC would like to thank the Town of Ocean City and Worcester County Commissioners for their continued funding of our redevelopment efforts,” said Givarz. “Although we are fortunate to have successful fundraising efforts like the OCDC Golf Tournament and Public Art as well as grant writing funds for specific projects, it is really the financial support of the city and county that allows us to keep the office open and staff working.”
The nine awards presented by the OCDC this year were broken into four categories.
Ocean City Boardwalk Suites LLC, OC Café, Anthony and Christina Bruno, Wayne Hartman, and Jerry Greenspan and Jelar Corporation were all recognized for façade improvements done to their properties.
Walter and Susan Madigosky were recognized for taking part in the Green Building Initiatives program, while the OCDC Golf Committee won this year’s OCDC Organizational award.
Finally, two individual awards were given to Hal Adkins, director of public works for Ocean City, and to Greg Shockley, the outgoing OCDC board of director and past president.
Shockley, who served as president for three years, told the audience that he has no qualms leaving the organization because its current leadership will keep OCDC on track as a liaison between public and private investors.
“And that’s been why OCDC has succeeded,” said Shockley. “Because it’s creating a public and private partnership and it has great people involved in it. I enjoyed my years in it and I’ll miss it.”
The reading of election results was quick and drama free. Of the four Board of Directors positions up for re-election all will be returning: Todd Ferrante, Bob Givarz, Geoff Robbins, and Louise Gulyas. Newly elected Reid Tingle will be joining the OCDC Board to fill in the space left by Shockley.