Seasonal Housing Project Eyed In Downtown OC; State Grant Sought To Help With Demo Costs

Seasonal Housing Project Eyed In Downtown OC; State Grant Sought To Help With Demo Costs

OCEAN CITY — With the seasonal housing shortage in the resort now deemed critical, Ocean City officials this week approved a grant request to help fund the demolition and redevelopment of a property on 1st Street that could add nearly 50 beds in the downtown area.

The Mayor and Council on Monday approved a request from the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) to seek a state grant to help fund the expense of demolishing a long-vacant building on the corner of 1st Street and Baltimore Ave. The OCDC is seeking a grant totaling nearly $250,000 from the state’s Strategic Demolition-Smart Growth Impact Fund to help the current property owner move forward with a plan to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new facility including retail on the first floor and as many as 48 seasonal housing beds on the top two floors.

The property currently contains first-floor retail space along with apartments on the second and third floors. It has been vacant for over a year and the town of Ocean City has posted a “no occupancy” sign on the property due to its poor condition. The property owner’s engineer has surveyed the building and is now recommending it be demolished due to various structural deficiencies and other code issues.

The requested grant, if approved, would be applied toward the demolition cost, engineering and architectural costs for a new development, permit and impact fees and foundation work. In turn, the property owner would provide the land and construct a new project on the site.

OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin explained the proposed replacement project would include two retail stores on the ground level, 24 seasonal housing beds on the second floor, 24 seasonal housing beds on the third floor and a property manager’s apartment on the fourth floor.

According to the grant request, the proposal offers an opportunity to gain seasonal housing in an area of downtown where it is sorely needed.

“There is a demand for seasonal housing for summer employees, however, it is rare that such housing is provided in new construction,” the grant request description reads. “This new mixed-use project will contain modern life-safety items as required by the building codes. It will be dormitory-style living accommodations.”

With no discussion, the Mayor and Council on Monday unanimously approved the grant application request. The Strategic Demolition grants are highly competitive, but the OCDC has successfully gained three grants in the first three years of the program. Other successful bids include the Fat Daddy’s mixed-use project, the model block demolition and most recently, the Royalton Hotel redevelopment.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.