Concerns Not Enough To Derail Hotel Project

OCEAN CITY – The Avelon Hotel received unanimous site plan approval this week from the Planning and Zoning Commission, despite concerns about height and access.

The Avelon Hotel project calls for the redevelopment of the property located on the south side of 1st Street between Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues.

Although the building is located downtown, it will be four stories in height. An amendment to the downtown height ordinance, approved by the Mayor and Council, allows mixed-use buildings to build to four stories to attract commercial business to the downtown.

The incentive also allows for dormers to be added to the top of the building, a feature that some of the commission members were not pleased with.

“The floor plan of the top floor, isn’t what we envisioned,” said Commission member Peck Miller. “It does make the building very top heavy.”

“Our concern is also it’s one of the first buildings you see coming into Ocean City and whether its going to be overwhelming,” said Commission Chairperson Pamela Buckley.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith assured the commission that the building height and pitched roof were conforming.

“I understand what you are saying, but from the exterior, it is what was anticipated,” Smith said.

Glenn Irwin, Executive Director of the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC), reported having no problem with the height of the building or the roof pitch.

The first floor of the building will consist of a lobby for the hotel as well as commercial use with the three floors above to be used as hotel rooms. A full restaurant and bar will be included in the first floor commercial space.

“Do you have a tenant for the restaurant or is that just wishful thinking,” asked Commission member Lauren Taylor. The commission was informed three interested parties have stepped forward already with an interest in the restaurant space.

Local resident Paul Morris spoke about what he considered the “800-pound gorilla in the room” that no one wanted to address – access. Morris pointed out the drive-though could only accommodate three cars at a time, which would inevitably cause back-up onto Baltimore Ave, particularly during Saturday check-in when, according to Morris, 84 cars would be trying to access the hotel.

“It’s going to be ridiculous the amount of cars that are going to be backed up trying to get into here,” Morris said.

“You’re not going to have more than 30 people coming in at the same time,” said Taylor, adding no hotel has a complete turnover at one time.