Ocean City Transfers Properties For Model Block Goal

OCEAN CITY — The latest pieces of the proposed “model block” in downtown Ocean City fell into place this week when the Mayor and Council agreed to convey two properties to the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC).

For several years, the town has been working with the OCDC to acquire property in a downtown city block between Dorchester and Somerset streets and Philadelphia and Baltimore avenues. Through the OCDC, the town acquires the properties, many of which host aging and dilapidated buildings, with the intent of packaging them for future redevelopment on a large scale.

“The OCDC has been accumulating parcels to acquire a larger area for the model block in the future,” OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin told the Mayor and Council and members of the audience on Monday. “The plan is to one day package them together to offer to a developer to make an attractive project on that block in the downtown area.”

Currently, the Town of Ocean City and the OCDC own 11 of the 13 properties on the block with eight transferred to the OCDC just last year. On Monday, the Mayor and Council voted unanimously to convey two more parcels, 312 Baltimore Ave. and 106 Somerset Street, to the OCDC.

The OCDC has envisioned assembling properties on the block to eventually attract an anchor project in the downtown area. The belief is an attractive downtown redevelopment project on the block will provide a link from the Boardwalk to the restaurants, bars and other attractions on the bayside. There is also an economic component to the model block concept with the creation of jobs, business opportunities and an expansion of the tax base.

The model block was chosen for a variety of reasons. For example, the town already owned a number of properties on the block when the model block idea was conceived in the late-1990s, including the old police station on Dorchester Street which later served as Beach Patrol offices. In addition, the model block is in the core of the downtown area and an eventual redevelopment project would have a significant benefit for that entire section downtown.

For the most part, many of the properties acquired in the model block area are aging and in poor to fair condition, making them ripe for redevelopment. While the OCDC has spent a considerable amount of time and grant funding to restore many of the older buildings downtown through its façade program, the agency believes many of the buildings in the model block area are not financially viable to restore.