Plans Unveiled For Former OC Motel Property

OCEAN CITY – A large empty parcel in the downtown area may finally be built up after years of proposals as the Planning and Zoning Commission granted preliminary approval for a multi-use complex.
25th Street Bayside Development, LLC out of New Jersey has proposed a project titled 25th Street Condominiums and 2501 Philadelphia Ave. Hotel located on the west side of Philadelphia Ave. between 25th and 26th streets.
The project will sit on four acres of land that surrounds a water channel and is separated into three buildings. According to Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith, the Misty Harbor Motel once stood at this location but had been demolished many years ago. In the meantime, several projects have come before the commission to take its place but nothing has actually carried through. In the interim, the land has been used for special event parking.
The project includes two sites. Site A is on the easterly portion and runs parallel with Philadelphia Ave. As proposed, the site includes two adjoining 4,600-square-foot restaurants on the northern portion next to 26th Street and a hotel consisting of 92 rooms and 16 suites on the southern portion next to 25th St. The hotel brand has yet to be released.
Site B, as proposed, is a condominium building consisting of 12, three-bedroom units that will be situated on the most westerly portion on 25th Street with the hotel to the east.
Throughout discussion, the Planning and Zoning Commission became concerned over traffic circulation. Commission member Peck Miller suggested the design be altered to change a walkway between the hotel and the restaurants to a drive thru but the change would result in the loss of three parking spaces. The commission also suggested adding a two-way curb cut on 25th Street that would result in the loss of two parking spaces.
The commission debated whether the two restaurants are considered an accessory use because they are included on the same parcel as the hotel or if the restaurants should be considered a primary use because they are detached from the hotel, which would alter the final parking requirement.
The project is proposed to have a total of 192 parking spaces. Because the restaurants have been deemed an accessory use, it allows a 50-percent parking waiver, resulting in a 45-space credit. According to Smith, if the restaurants were considered a primary use within the mixed-use project, the parking requirement would practically be doubled.
“With the way people come and go, 192 spaces for a mixed-use project will probably work,” Smith said.
Commission Chair Pam Buckley recommended reducing the size of the proposed restaurants to make up for the loss in parking spaces due to the recommended traffic changes.
“You are just trying to push too much stuff on this piece of property,” she said.
The commission voted unanimously to grant preliminary site plan approval and to return with an altered design enhancing traffic circulation and relocation of parking.
On Wednesday, Jeff Thaler of Atlantic Planning, Development & Design, Inc. explained the plan will be altered to include a driveway between the hotel and the restaurants as well as a rearrangement of parking.
Thaler said construction is slated for this winter but it is still up in the air what phase will begin first. Thaler added the final plans for the restaurant have not been decided, specifically whether it will remain two separate spaces or become one large restaurant.
“That land has been sitting empty for almost 10 years now when the Misty Harbor was demolished. The property has had four or five different owners and four or five different plans proposed there. There has been no major money coming in through the tax base for that property because it is just empty land,” Thaler said. “Just getting back in line and getting something in there is good.”
Another site plan that came before the commission that evening was of S & S Properties, or more specifically Sunsations owner Avi Sibony, to construct a new 9,848-square-foot retail structure on the Boardwalk between 4th and 5th streets.
Currently, the property stands as a Sunsations but once was a Hampton Inn with general apartments and rooms, and after Sibony bought the property he discontinued the residential use of the front building and made it into a retail store.
The current building will be demolished and a new building will be constructed that will include two retail spaces, one to be a Sunsations and the other for tenant space.
Smith estimated construction will begin this fall once an appeal in Circuit Court is resolved. Sibony had received an exception to the setback, which by code is 32 feet from the Boardwalk but the current structure is 20 feet and the Board of Zoning Appeals granted an exception to allow the new structure to be setback 20 feet as well. The neighboring properties appealed the exception to the Circuit Court.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the site plan.