NEW FOR TUESDAY: Redevelopment Projects Proposed For Downtown Properties

OCEAN CITY – A few changes are on the horizon in the downtown area with a new building to house Fat Daddy’s and a new miniature golf course clearing planning hurdles this month.

Last week Fat Daddy’s owner Ed Braude returned to the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission to give an update on a site plan that had been approved over a year ago depending on several conditions.

September of 2011 was when the commission first saw the plans for the Fat Daddy’s project downtown on the northwest corner of Dorchester Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The first floor of the building includes the Fat Daddy’s restaurant, which will seat 65, and a retail store. The second floor will include 20 rental rooms aimed to house employees of the businesses.

Since the building is located downtown, it falls under the limits of Ocean City Development Corporations (OCDC), which strives to assist, build or renovate buildings to represent historical downtown Ocean City.

The OCDC had requested the applicant provide the final colors for siding, detail, awnings and shutters. Also, it was suggested the roof line should have a portion revised, such as a parapet wall to break up the long expanse. The window treatment was also recommended to be detailed so it doesn’t present a flat look with the building’s wall.

The commission also became concerned over the external aesthetics of the building. Members were initially disappointed by the single, small rendering that seemed to indicate a lack of some sort of separation between the different spaces.

Commission member Peck Miller suggested some type of gable, or peaked roofing, versus the flat roof rendered as well as an awning over the retail store to differentiate the space from the restaurant.

OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin agreed that there needed to be more detail provided on awning styles and final colors of the building but in working with the applicants up to that point he said he was comfortable with the project moving forward, adding the owners of Fat Daddy’s have completed two attractive projects to date including an extensive renovation of their Dorchester Street business and their 82nd Street property.

The commission voted to approve the proposed site plan last fall but asked for Braude to return with a revised version of the rendering that included the recommendations made.

Last Tuesday, legal counsel representing Braude, Joseph Moore, reviewed the progress made with OCDC up to that point.

The OCDC made the following suggestions and Fat Daddy’s has committed to each: the corner element should have a visually prominent pitch roof rising higher than the flat roof of the main building in order to provide an enhanced focal point and help break up the building’s façade and remove the watch tower feature on the corner entrance way,

Also, pilasters should be added to the locations of the downspouts in order to break the façade into separate spaces, replace the river stone base with cut stone as it is found on the base of the current downtown Fat Daddy’s location, and remove the current fake windows from the west wall elevation and add trim in alternating colors to break up the lengthy expansion of the building.

“It is a substantial redevelopment of the south part of this block and it certainly is an improvement,” Moore said.

Irwin reported to the commission that the organization is in support of the project.

“At this point, it’s almost a partnership,” he said. “We are trying to work with Ed and Lisa [Fat Daddy owners] to try to get some grant money to make this an easier project. We like the project as far as a mixed-use project, they’re talking about affordable housing on the upper floor, that’s what the state loves, and the fact that the restaurant is on the corner. For downtown, that is where you want restaurants, in the corner sections so it will really stand out.”

The commission voted to approve the architectural changes as presented and asked for the final rendering to be brought back to the commission for review.

Next the Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed a request to add a miniature golf course as a conditional use to the Downtown Mixed-Used (DMX) zoning district.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith looked back in time to 2010 when the commission approved a request from Trimper Amusements to have a portion of Worcester Street re-zoned to an Amusement Overlay district so that the family could consider installing rides on the site at a later date.

“At that time, there was a possibility that they would extend the overlay district to … what used to be the Tank Battle [Trimper attraction on the west side of Baltimore Avenue] property but the property owner did not want to do that at that time,” Smith said. “My remembrance was that they knew with the Historic Henry Hotel that it created some concerns so they did not have a need to do it at that time … and it has been laying idle all these years.”

According to Smith, Old Pro Golf recently expressed an interest to have a miniature golf course downtown with a nautical theme on the Tank Battle property. The company is already in negotiations with the Trimper family, but Ocean City’s code does not allow for a miniature golf course in the DMX district.

“In 2002, when we adopted the downtown overlay district we removed those types of uses and conditional uses out of the DMX district,” Smith said. “We were basically guiding development for commercial use in the DMX district and amusements were to stay on the other side of the road.”

Old Pro Golf is asking the commission to consider a text amendment to the code to add miniature golf courses as a conditional use as it was before. Smith pointed out there has been miniature golf courses in the downtown area as a conditional use in the past on Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues.

There are multiple ways to achieve a text change within the city’s code; by application of a property owner, by a motion and a second of the Planning and Zoning Commission, or by resolution of the Mayor and City Council. The request has not yet gone before the Mayor and City Council.

“I think it would be a good thing to bring more activity, it is pretty benign kind of thing to have a conditional use,” Commission Chair Pam Buckley said.

Miller added that nearby resorts, such as Virginia Beach, have miniature golf courses in the downtown area and it looks nice as well as it would be nice to break up the downtown area with such a use.

The commission was in consensus to move the request to a public hearing to be held at a future Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.