Plan of Action
The OCDC Board of Directors has discussed many issues related to the downtown area. The following items are related to addressing these issues and our recommendations to revitalize the downtown area from the Inlet to 17th Street. This area is classified as a Sustainable Communities Area by the State. This designation allows the OCDC and Town of Ocean City to pursue specific state funding sources to implement its revitalization efforts.
A. Work with redevelopers and new businesses
1. The OCDC recognizes that private sector investment will be the key ingredient in revitalizing the downtown area of Ocean City. The major role of the OCDC, in this capacity, is planning for quality development to occur. The OCDC expects to continue to work with such property owners and businesses looking to redevelop properties in the downtown area.
2. The OCDC aims to be the first point of contact for prospective redevelopers in the downtown area and to work with such developers to promote quality development and assist them through the City process.
3. The OCDC will work with the Town of Ocean City to coordinate these efforts.
4. For well-designed and quality projects, the OCDC will assist potential developers to pursue public funds, if eligible.
B. OCDC assistance programs
1. The OCDC Façade Program has provided financial assistance to numerous businesses and property owners south of 17th Street. This program has been warmly received and promotes the design standards of the “Old Ocean City” architecture. This program and the Green Building and Business Assistance Programs are funded by State of Maryland grant funds. Thus the availability of such funds is directly related to these grants.
2. The Green Building Initiatives Program provides financial assistance to businesses and property owners to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.
3. The Business Assistance Program provides financial assistance for fixed interior businesses to new and expanding businesses. This program is targeted for specific business uses.
4. OCDC also provides a Roof Program and Fence Program to assist downtown property owners. These two programs are provided by OCDC funds.
C. Somerset Plaza
1. The OCDC will continue to work with business and property owners along this street segment to attract good quality retail uses to the street.
2. The OCDC will work with the street retailers and Town of Ocean City to bring special events to the Plaza.
3. OCDC believes this semi-pedestrian function should be expanded westwards and eventually link the Boardwalk to the bayside properties.
D. Redevelopment of Worcester Street lot
1. The OCDC believes a multi-purpose use, including a public parking facility for this City owned property would bring additional activity to the downtown area.
2. The OCDC will work with the Town of Ocean City in finding the necessary funding to construct this project.
3. This project could increase the value of the Model Block project which is envisioned to contain little parking on-site.
E. Land acquisition Program
1. Although the OCDC possesses limited funds, it believes the purchase of strategic properties is very important to its revitalization efforts.
2. Such uses may be for public use or for private uses that would provide a long-term public benefit.
3. OCDC will pursue a redevelopment interest for the Model Block properties that will bring additional activity and excitement to the inner blocks of downtown.
F. Public Art Program
1. Public art has a strong place in the redevelopment efforts for downtown Ocean City. The OCDC believes public art adds interest to the downtown area and increases pedestrian traffic, as the area becomes better known for its public art offerings.
2. The public art projects completed to date include: sculptures, wall murals, painted utility boxes, and stamped brick pavers.
3. OCDC will continue to promote additional public art throughout Ocean City.
G. Water Access
1. This project is a long-term goal of the OCDC.
2. As Bayside and Inlet projects are designed, OCDC should continue to promote access to the waterfront.
3. The goal is to promote additional pedestrian traffic throughout the bayside and Inlet area.
H. Update and expand design standards
1. To revisit the downtown and upper downtown design and to provide additional recommendations for revisions as needed.
2. To update manuals for each of these two design districts to distribute to potential developers, architects, engineers, and general public.
3. To look at other areas in Ocean City to create design standards.
I . Public information
1. The OCDC will continue to complete an annual OCDC newsletter and news releases that will be made available to OCDC members, development community, and general public describing OCDC activities.
2. The OCDC will continue to provide presentations and walking tours of downtown Ocean City to inform the general public as well as specific groups that have an interest in downtown Ocean City.
3. OCDC will keep its website updated and produce videos promoting downtown, its heritage and OCDC successes.
J. Special events
1. OCDC recognizes the importance of special events in attracting people to the downtown area.
2. OCDC manages and promotes various special events in the downtown area. Such events include music events, craft beer events, public art events, food events, and more.
3. OCDC will continue to provide funds to such events and local organizations that occur in the downtown area.
K. Capital Improvements
1. OCDC will continue to work with the Town of Ocean City to bring capital improvements to the downtown area. Past projects include Somerset Plaza, S. 1st Street, Sunset Park, Entry Park, OCBP Headquarters and the decorative street lighting along St. Louis Avenue.
L. Employee Housing
1. Recognizing that workforce housing is very important to the Ocean City economy, OCDC will continue to advocate for such housing as well as provide management and assist redevelopment projects including employee housing.
M. Expanding OCDC target area:
1. OCDC will research extending its designated service area northwards up to 33rd Street.
2. In order to utilize its programs funded by State funds, the OCDC and Town of Ocean City will need to designate this area as a Sustainable Communities Area.
3. If approved by the State, the OCDC will be able to implement its Façade Program, Business Assistance Program, and Business Assistance Program to these newly designated areas as well as pursue other grant and loan funds for projects in these areas.
4. Implement the OCDC Roof and OCDC Fence Programs into these areas.
5. Consider creating design standards for these newly designated areas.
Glenn Irwin, Executive Director
Ocean City Development Corporation