Starbucks Parking Exception In Ocean City Approved

OCEAN CITY — A future Starbucks in downtown Ocean City is closer to becoming a reality this week after resort officials approved a special parking exception for the planned new coffee house.

Last month, Harrison Group representatives G. Hale Harrison and Mark Mayers came before the Ocean City Police Commission with a special request to change seven existing full-time parking spots on 17th Street near Baltimore Avenue to designated 20-minute load and unload spots to accommodate their plans to convert an existing Subway restaurant into a Starbucks. The Harrison Group representatives explained the success of the future business hinged on customers being able to park close and get in and out quickly. They also pointed to the success of the existing Starbuck in West Ocean City and its ability to quickly service customers.

At the time, Police Commission members weren’t keen on giving up as many as seven parking spaces as 20-minute load and unload spots on the public street. Commission members pointed out the dearth of parking spaces on 17th Street and the surrounding areas for beachgoers.

For his part, Harrison explained the company owned property on both adjacent blocks and there was ample parking available on the company’s three auxiliary lots to accommodate their hotel guests, making the seven spots available for the proposed Starbucks. However, the Police Commission could not be convinced and asked Harrison and Mayers to go back to the drawing board and fine tune just how many dedicated 20-minute load and unload spots were needed to support the business.

After some compromise, the Harrison Group told the Police Commission it could likely make it work with five dedicated spots and the commission forwarded a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council. The town’s elected officials on Monday voted to allow five spots on 17th Street closest to Baltimore Avenue to be dedicated as 20-minute load and unload spots from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but not before voicing some concern about opening the door for similar requests in the future.

“I hope what we’re doing doesn’t set a precedent,” said Councilman Wayne Hartman. “That being said, seeing how the owners have property on both sides of the street, it looks like it might be appropriate here.”

Mayor and Acting City Manager Rick Meehan said Harrison made a strong case for the parking exception.

“He recognized it is a public street,” he said. “He made his case as to why it is so important to the viability of this business. The spaces will be utilized by many users throughout the day. I think we need to encourage this business and others to come to Ocean City.”