OCEAN CITY – In the last 13 years, the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) believes it has set an example of what a private and public partnership can accomplish.
OCDC President Bob Givarz and Executive Director Glenn Irwin presented the Mayor and City Council with OCDC’s annual report this week.
Since 2000, the OCDC has become comprised of 128 members, 11 committees and 8,037 volunteer meeting time hours since its inception.
So far this year, there have been several community legacy funding awards. The façade program received $50,000. Another $50,000 has been secured for the OCDC Business Assistance Program and $50,000 to fund St. Louis Ave. decorative street lights.
To date, the OCDC has renovated 134 buildings within the façade program. That is almost $5 million in private sector investment and a 6-to-1 leverage ratio of private to public dollars. There are currently nine projects underway and three recently approved to be underway.
“We have more façade projects completed through the State program, Community Legacy Funding, than any other city in the State of Maryland,” Irwin said.
A few noteworthy projects that have been completed are the O.C. Café on 4th Street, the Muze Café on Somerset Street as well as a condo building at 505 Atlantic Avenue and Captains Landing on Philadelphia Ave.
Like the façade program, the OCDC Green Building Initiatives Program pays one third of the cost up to $5,000 for qualifying businesses to install energy efficient improvements to reduce long term business costs, such as energy star rated windows and doors, insulation, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.
There have been 18 projects completed in the past two years under this program with five projects currently underway. That is $280,000 in total improvements.
“Another good project in the downtown that is being well received,” Irwin said.
A project completed just a few months ago was the “Cool Roof” project at 102 S. Philadelphia Ave. Irwin explained façade funding cannot go towards roofs but can be used to install cool roofs within the Green Building Initiatives Program. There have been five roofs completed downtown in this fashion.
Another project recently completed under OCDC’s Fence Program is at 901 St. Louis Avenue.
“We are trying to highlight the corners of properties of Ocean City,” Givarz said. “You will see adding a little bit of fencing adds a lot to the property. It is a final touch in detail.”
A new program, OCDC Business Assistance Program, targets vacant commercial spaces in the downtown area, from the Inlet to 17th Street, to attract some new businesses or the expansion of current businesses. This program includes financial assistance, also up to one third not to exceed $5,000, for permanent interior improvement.
“We feel this will be a very successful program,” Givarz said. “To date, all of our projects and programs have been on the exterior of property and buildings. Now we are going inside to see if we can help.”
So far there is one approved applicant and three other properties initiating the approval process for this program.
The OCDC operates and manages seasonal housing in the downtown for city employees. The two properties combined at 108 Dorchester Street and 110 Somerset Street hold housing for 23 employees, and another property at 105 Dorchester Street consists of two buildings and provides housing for 19 employees.
“All four of these buildings have been a success not only for us but for the town and for the neighborhood,” Irwin said. “It is nice having additional people living downtown.”
A project currently underway is the Fat Daddy’s mixed-use project at 216 S. Baltimore Avenue that is planned to be completed by this summer. The project will replace the old Fat Daddy’s building with a new restaurant with additional commercial space and affordable housing on the second floor.
OCDC applied for a predevelopment grant for $90,000 and is awaiting the announcement of approval. Upon approval, it will be the first program under the new State of Maryland program, Smart Growth Impact Fund (SGIF).
Upcoming downtown projects include a Sustainable Communities Plan, a wall mural to be painted on 2nd Street and Washington Lane, the continuation of scenic painting on utility boxes, a Preakness Party on May 18 to benefit public art, a new Main Street sign to recognize Ocean City as Maryland’s newest Main Street community and a Downtown Clean Up Day, among more special events.
“What you have accomplished in 13 years takes some organizations a life time,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “You have done a tremendous job in branching out to improve the appearance in the downtown, supply new energy downtown, creating new ideas and enthusiasm, and you have really brought the whole community together. Being able to implement design criteria and being able to get the public to buy into that is an accomplishment … I think you have created a great example.”