(March 31, 2017) It’s been a long time coming, but when members of PRBR Hospitality Group dug their shovels in the dirt on Wednesday afternoon, it signaled that the Hyatt Place Hotel on 16th Street would be open for business come spring 2018.

“This is a great use for an iconic property,” Mayor Rick Meehan said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “The Hyatt is going to bring first-class accommodations to Ocean City, and it’s what our visitors need.”

The seven-story Hyatt Place Hotel will have 105 oceanfront rooms and will include a restaurant, bar and outdoor veranda. The hotel also will feature meeting rooms, room service, indoor and outdoor pools and a fitness center. The building will have 5,000 square feet for retail space and will be filled by six shops on the Boardwalk.

The new hotel will replace the former Sea Scape Motel, which dates to the 1950s and was one of the first motels built in the resort. The location also had Pepper’s Tavern, an underground “five-star dive” bar, which will be traded for the Boardwalk stores.

“This is truly a legacy project as it’s stayed in the family for decades,” said RE/MAX Realtor Mark Hall, who is a member of the Hyatt Place development team. “The family has worked diligently in the past five years to get the property ready for development, and it’s a great opportunity for Ocean City.”

Originally, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved an 18-month site plan for the Hyatt Place in December 2014, which was designed by Fisher Architecture.

The hotel was set to open in summer 2016, but Sea Scape managing partner Tom Bennett requested a site plan extension last June.

In November, PRBR Hospitality Group, which owns the property, inked a $21 million construction and permanent mortgage transaction for the new hotel.

Last call for Pepper’s Tavern was last October, and both the bar and the Sea Scape were demolished in November. Harkins Contracting Inc. of Salisbury was also signed on for the construction work.

Bennett’s son, Tommy, offered a few comments on Wednesday, thanking the various partners involved with the business venture, such as hospitality management company TKo Hospitality. He also reaffirmed his family’s commitment to Ocean City.

“From the time we first stepped foot in the sand, we knew that this town is special,” Tommy Bennett said. “It’s remained a constant for us and we feel that Hyatt Place is perfect for the shore.”

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