Ocean City Today

OCDC receives state funds for downtown revitalization

By Kara Hallissey | Nov 02, 2017
The façade program has assisted 198 downtown property owners from the inlet to south of 17th Street including 105 South Baltimore Avenue.

(Nov. 3, 2017) Funds for the façade program and demolition efforts were announced by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development last week providing $175,000 to the Ocean City Development Corporation through their Community Legacy Program and Strategic Demolition Fund.

“OCDC is grateful to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for its support of our revitalization program in downtown Ocean City,” Executive Director Glenn Irwin said. “Funding was very competitive this year and we were fortunate to get the full amount for our façade program as well as funds for demolition.”

The nonprofit plans on using the $75,000 in façade program grant money to assist more than 20 downtown property and business owners renovate the exteriors of their buildings.

“The $75,000 in façade money is the most we’ve received from that grant in many years,” Irwin said. “We were fortunate to get the $75,000 we requested and this is our best revitalization program.”

To date, the façade program has assisted 198 downtown property and business owners from the inlet to south of 17th Street renovate their buildings in Ocean City.

“The 198 completed buildings resulted in over $6 million in private investment,” Irwin said. “We have seven projects currently underway.”

The façade program provides subsidies to property owners for exterior renovations of their buildings, which provides higher-quality housing stock for local families, while also boosting property values for tax purposes.

The $100,000 in demolition funds will be applied to a new mixed-use project on Baltimore Avenue where the Alibi Room currently stands. Owners want to create a five-story building with a bar and restaurant in addition to outdoor seating on the first floor and then add three floors of employee housing.

The Community Legacy Program provides local governments and community development organizations with essential funding for important projects and is Maryland’s initiative to stimulate investment in traditional downtowns all over the state. These projects strengthen local communities and support housing and homeownership goals, while attracting and retaining business, according to their blog.

Projects include improving commercial façades, greening and streetscaping activities, renovating historic buildings and rehabilitating properties in downtown areas.

Maryland’s program promotes neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing, tourism and economic growth.

“Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development moved up their application deadline this year, which was good for us because business owners want to start fixing up their buildings on a lot of our façade projects by the start of springtime,” Irwin said.

A total of $18 million in Community Legacy Program grants and the Strategic Demolition fund were awarded to 116 projects in 21 jurisdictions by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

“This funding is also available to local governments and nonprofit community development corporations, who many times are working with private entities and other partners invested in

Maryland neighborhoods and focused on creating jobs and housing opportunities,” according to its blog.

Several other municipalities in Worcester County received funds from the Community Legacy Program awards this year.

Snow Hill was awarded $100,000 to improve the physical appearance of commercial buildings, and Pocomoke received $175,000 to improve downtown buildings, paint the exterior of the Costen House and purchase a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the Mar-Va Theater.

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