The concept of “out with the old, in with the new” plays out routinely in Ocean City in the construction world.
In most cases, it’s a positive necessity as dilapidated eyesores or long dormant lots get replaced with state-of-the-art hotels or mixed-use condominium projects. That’s progress and it’s important for Ocean City to evolve with the times particularly as properties change hands.
However, in the case of the downtown property on Talbot Street and Baltimore Avenue, it’s exciting to learn the new property owner is looking to preserve this historic block in downtown Ocean City. The new owner intends to restore the property’s interior, return the exterior to its former glory and preserve everything he can.
“It has such ornate architecture and it needs to be preserved,” said property owner Larry Payne. “The plan is to renovate it from the inside out. I want to preserve as much of the original structure as possible, but there are a lot of features that have been added over the years and I want to get back to what it looked like on the inside decades ago.”
As a result of the extensive work to be done, existing business on the ground floor of the building will have to be relocated. That’s a shame for these small businesses but truly the only negative about the property owner’s intention.
This renovation process is going to cost big bucks. With these sorts of endeavors with old buildings that have been neglected to a degree, it’s never known how much it’s going to cost because further examination typically reveals more needs to address. That’s why a property owner with experience in these sorts of preservation efforts with old buildings is a major plus.
In the case of this property, which millions of people drive by each year in Ocean City, the easiest option would likely be to raze it and rebuild. It would probably be cheaper and will surely involve less headaches. That’s not the intention at this time and the property owner said, “What I’d really like to do is turn it back into an inn like it was 80 years ago or more. With the downstairs at street level, I’m envisioning a sidewalk café, maybe with some outside seating. I want to replace those storefronts with something that matches the rest of the architecture.”
This is a project that should come as great news to downtown Ocean City admirers, residents and businesses. It’s an opportunity to preserve the past while providing necessary updates to function in today’s world. We look forward to watching this redevelopment process play out in the months ahead.