Ocean City, Seacrets Extend Street-End Lease Deal

OCEAN CITY — An extended lease renewal has been approved for a portion of 49th Street.

Last month, at the request of the Police Commission, the Mayor and Council agreed to renew a one-year lease with Seacrets for a roughly 250-foot section on the west end of 49th Street. The town leases the 250-foot section of 49th Street for $2,400 on a year-to-year basis and the lease had expired at the end of 2020.

However, after the one-year lease renewal was approved last month, Leighton’s West End LLC came back before the Mayor and Council last Tuesday seeking a reconsideration of the one-year lease and instead seeking a three-year lease. The company was also seeking relief from a provision in the lease that allows no signage of any kind on the city-owned property.

The options on the table for the Mayor and Council were to simply stick to the one-year lease agreement, renew for three years with a “kick out” option if the situation changed, or offer a one-year lease with automatic renewal unless one or both parties cancelled in advance. The council ultimately approved the latter.

“The police commission recommended renewing the lease for one year, as has been the practice in recent years,” said City Manager Doug Miller. “They’re asking for a renewal of three years. Some years, it sneaks up on us and expires. They’re asking for a three-year renewal to prevent that.”

The lease agreement is considered a win-win situation for both parties. It allows Seacrets to control and manage the area directly in front of the establishment. Restaurant staff directs pedestrian foot traffic, regulates vehicle movement and stages areas for taxi cab pickups and deliveries and other management and control crowds. The benefit to the town, apart from the modest $2,400 lease, is the assistance provided to the Ocean City Police Department in that area. With Seacrets’ vast bar security operation controlling the area for the most part, the OCPD does not have to devote as much attention to it.

The other issue to resolve was the company’s request for relief from the signage prohibition in the existing lease. City Solicitor Heather Stansbury said Seacrets did not desire to automatically place signs in the city-owned property, but merely wanted the option to apply for a permit during certain special events and other occasions. Stansbury said the company would have to go through the proper channels for approval including the planning commission. The council ultimately approved the request with the state regulatory caveat.

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.