Friday, Oct 30–Berlin Building Surge Eyed

BERLIN – New homes, new buildings and new businesses are on the way for Berlin, despite the recession and real estate market concerns.

The housing industry in Berlin is showing signs of life after months of dormancy, with proposals made recently for 40-plus units of new housing.

“Things are still happening. It’s not the boom but things are happening,” said Berlin Planning and Zoning director Chuck Ward.

A 38-unit housing development on 11 acres at the intersection of Tripoli Street and Route 113 has been proposed and was discussed by the Berlin Planning Commission earlier in October. The concept was given the go ahead to continue with the approvals process.

Another small development came in for preliminary subdivision approval at the October Planning Commission meeting, with a plan for four houses. Discussions with the Planning Commission raised the possibility of higher density, meaning more units.

Commercial space is also seeing some expansion. Four units of water and wastewater service, also known as EDUs, were awarded to two business concerns Monday night at the Berlin Mayor and Council meeting. The Broadmoore Building received two EDUs. The Sav-A-Lot strip mall also received two EDUS.

The Eastside Professional Center planned for Old Ocean City Blvd. received a final approval from the town’s Planning Commission earlier this month, and a project to build a new two-story medical office for Atlantic Orthopedics also received Planning Commission approval of the building concept.

“There are positive signs,” said Ward. “People are coming in the door with development projects. These aren’t just people looking to build a home. These are people with substantial projects, residential and commercial.”

Many municipalities are seeing no development, according to Ward.

“Ours has never been completely flat,” said Ward. “There’s always an interest to develop in Berlin.”

According to Michael Day, Berlin’s economic development director, town retail space is at nearly 90 percent capacity. About four retail spaces are empty.

“Other than that, there’s not much retail available…the problem is we get so many people interested and don’t have anything for them. Most of them don’t want to locate outside of downtown,” said Day.

Several new businesses will move into Berlin in the near future.

New businesses include several retail concerns. Two new shops will open on Main St. – a consignment shop called A Unique Boutique will take over Ace Printing’s old location on South Main Street, and Simply Shades, a lamp shade store will move into a spot on North Main St.

A Novel Idea, a bookstore selling new and used books, will soon be moving into Ta-Da’s old space on William St. from the Ocean Pines area. Ta-Da is now located on Main St.

A bookstore in Berlin was one of the top two requests revealed in a recent survey.

On the edge of town, the cinderblock building near Barrett’s auto dealership will be the new home of Auto-tint and More.

The peach shed, located off Main Street in the municipal parking, already has a new tenant, dating from last month, an artist’s studio and gallery called My Studio.

Day attributes the new businesses in town and the high retail occupancy rate to “the infectious, positive energy which is already here.”

One building in need of a tenant, the former Tyson poultry plant on Old Ocean City Blvd., has had a few inquiries, Day said, but so far nothing has happened there. An attempt to market the space for green manufacturing is in the works.

“It’s a tough one,” Day said.