Blighted Lot at Ocean City’s Gateway Gets New Life

first_img Architect’s drawing of a proposed commercial office building at the corner of Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue.A vacant Ninth Street lot that was once home to a Blockbuster video store and a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant may soon get a makeover.The 246-by-115-foot tract as it looks today.The Ocean City Planning Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a site plan for a new commercial office building at the corner of Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue.The property is part of the island’s “gateway” — the first blocks visitors see when they cross the Ninth Street Bridge.Neighbors and Planning Board members praised the plan as a welcome relief from what was a deteriorating commercial property, then an empty tract.“It’s been an eyesore for quite a few years,” said Yaron Helmer, the property’s immediate neighbor. “We welcome the project.”Planning Board member Robert Becher said the design reminds him of the buildings he saw coming over the bridge as a kid.Views of proposed office building from Ninth Street (top) and Simpson Avenue (bottom).“It’s an old-school Ocean City look,” he said.Architect Shannon Halliday showed the board plans for a commercial building with three suites that would “fit with the local seashore vernacular.” The lots comprise an area 246 feet by 115 feet.The development would be shielded from neighbors to the south by a line of cypress trees, and the site plan includes a landscaping area at the corner of Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue.The site plan is compliant with existing zoning but requires parking, truck berth and sign area variances. The plan calls for 47 parking spaces, seven fewer than the required 54. The construction of new curbs where none exist now would create six new on-street parking spots.Harold Taylor, who lives across Simpson Avenue from the proposed project, said parking already is a problem with drivers trying to avoid the metered parking at the nearby Transportation Center lot and with people parking there to walk the new Route 52 causeway path. But he said he otherwise supports the project.“It’s about time,” Planning Board member Joe Sheppard said. “And think about what could have gone there.”Planner Lance Landgraf, representing the applicant, Colleen Michelle LLC, said the proposed usage is “less intense” than other uses that would be permitted by zoning for the private property, such as gas stations or fast-food restaurants.Patrick Halliday will be the listing agent for the new commercial space. Architect’s drawing of a proposed commercial office building at the corner of Ninth Street and Simpson Avenue.last_img

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