OC’s Bayside Boardwalk Bids Vary

OCEAN CITY — Construction bids for the future bayside boardwalk around the waterfront at the new Cambria Hotel downtown ran the extremes this week.

The Cambria Hotel at the foot of 1st Street and the bay opened in August after its certificate of occupancy was delayed because a condition of approval required the developer to provide a $165,000 contribution to the development of a bayside boardwalk along the property’s waterfront. Ocean City has long desired to create a boardwalk along the bayside to connect downtown waterfront businesses and the Cambria’s section is a significant link in the chain.

As a condition of the zoning amendment that allowed for the development of a hotel on the old industrially-zoned Cropper Concrete plant and as a condition of the site plan approval for the project, the developer agreed to convey a 10-foot wide public access easement along the bayside and contribute $165,000 to the construction of the bayside boardwalk. The town of Ocean City handled the design of the boardwalk and has already purchased the lumber at around $29,000.

As a result of COVID-19, the developer sought to defer the $165,000 payment for the bayside boardwalk until the hotel opened and began taking in revenue. Those issues were eventually resolved, and the Cambria opened in August after making the $165,000 contribution.

On Tuesday, the construction bids for the bayside boardwalk in the area fronting the Cambria were opened and they were all over the map. The original estimate for the project was around $177,000, of which the developer contributed $165,000.

However, when the bids were opened on Tuesday, there couldn’t have been a much larger spread. For example, the low bid came in at around $124,000, while the highest bid came in at around $478,000. Most of the bids opened Tuesday were below or near the budgeted amount for the project, but a handful, including the high bid of $478,000, were considerably higher than the budgeted amount.

The council voted unanimously to remand the bids to staff for review and recommendation. City Engineer Terry McGean, who is overseeing the project, said if the low bid, or any of the bids lower than the budgeted amount, are chosen, it could result in a rebate for the hotel developer.

“When we did the design, I adjusted the estimate,” he said. “It looks like we’ll be under that. If it comes in under, the balance would revert back to the developer.”

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.