OCEAN CITY—The former site of BJ’s South is primed to become a new restaurant on the water as developers were given the nod to proceed with the building and permitting process by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday night.
T and W Redevelopment LLC purchased the 1st Street parcel, which stretches almost 35,000 square feet overlooking the Sinepuxent Bay in 2004 for a reported $5.2 million, according to public records, and despite receiving approval several years ago for a two-building, 37-unit, three-bedroom condominium complex, the partners have abandoned the residential idea and decided to go commercial.
On Wednesday, T and W legal counsel Hugh Cropper told the commission that the newly proposed plan consists of a 300-seat restaurant and bar in the downtown parcel, which will be called De Lazy Lizard, and reportedly will be operated by Coins’ proprietor and T and W partner Justin Beyers, Todd Hays and Wayne Odachowski.
“In hindsight, we realize now that tearing down the old BJ’s South was probably a bad idea, but at the time, the market was good, and they had planned to move forward with the other project, but now, it’s like we are starting with a clean slate,” Cropper said.
Plans for De Lazy Lizard include both indoor and outdoor seating, with boat docks, water views, and a 1,680-square-foot outside tiki bar in addition to the main building, which will be 112 feet by 35 feet, and provide upwards of 300 seats, according to architect Steven J. Cirile of Ruhf and Plitt Architects, Ltd.
Cirile said that foundation permits were hoped to be acquired in the next week and all other permits were expected to be acquired by the end of March, in hopes of a soft opening of the restaurant by Memorial Day.
“I think their plan is around July 4th for their big splash opening so to speak, but I think this is really going to be one of those places that is going to be the next big hotspot in downtown Ocean City,” said Cirile.
The commission unanimously approved the plans, although members wanted to ensure no overnight boat docking was allowed and proper landscaping and fences were in place.
In addition, the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) has given its blessing on the property owner’s plans with only one caveat.
“We think this will be a great addition to the downtown area and it’s going to be a great usage of this land,” said OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin. “Our only request is that they meet the recommendations that we have laid out in our downtown design standards.”
Reportedly, there is a restaurant called De Lazy Lizard in Morgantown, W.Va. that is also owned by the development group, but it appears that the niteclub type setting in West Virginia will make way for a more family restaurant type setting in the resort, based on the plans and the group’s testimonies on Wednesday.
The one concern the commission noted during the discussion included the plumbing capacity on the parcel of land compared to the amount of seats that the proprietors are planning for the establishment.
“I’ve spoken with the people in plumbing in the city and they have assured me that the site can handle the amount that we have applied for,” said Cirile. “The Fire Marshal is of course going to come in and tell us how many people will be allowed in there total, but plumbing and capacity are two different things.”