OCEAN CITY — Resort planners this week approved a design feature for the north façade of a significant hotel under construction along one of the major entrances to Ocean City, but the approval seemed somewhat moot with the project now in limbo over a dispute between the developer and the general contractor.
In 2014, the Planning and Zoning Commission granted site plan approval for a new 150-room, eight-story Residence Inn by Marriott along the bay adjacent to the Route 90 bridge. Earlier this summer, with the project an estimated 90 percent complete, resort planners took the developer to task over a perceived design flaw on the new hotel’s stark white wall on its north façade.
Some on the planning commission characterized the new hotel’s north façade as a charmless expanse of white wall with few windows or other design features resembling the back of a building, which, or course, it is. In July, with the project nearing completion, resort planners urged the developers to come back with a new design feature along the entrance to the resort.
After considerable, often chippy debate, the developers returned this week with four options for a proposed wave pattern along the north façade. The planning commission ultimately approved Option C, which includes an undulating, multi-colored wave pattern on the surface of the north façade between the two bump-out features on either end of the new hotel.
However, the final design of the north façade appeared secondary to the newest revelation in the ongoing saga of the new hotel. With the project about 90 percent complete, the developer is now at odds with the general contractor and work on the hotel has stopped with the completion date near the finish line. Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith said Wednesday the city is keeping a close eye on the evolving situation.
“I know it is at a standstill, but I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “The contractor has vacated the project and it sits idle.”
Smith told the planning commission steps have been taken to secure the property until the situation involving the developer and the contractor is resolved, but the town has little other involvement in the apparent dispute.
“The site is secured and safe and the city is monitoring the project, but I just don’t know at this point what’s going to happen with it,” he said. “We are involved in terms of making sure it is safe and secure, but nobody seems to have an answer right now.”