A 1930s-era apartment building on Baltimore Avenue in downtown Ocean City is getting close to a new look.
Last week, members of the resort’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved parking exceptions and other details for both a planned 20-room hotel at the site of the Nock Apartments at 608 Baltimore Ave., and a nearby parking area down the street.
The project required approvals from the board for exceptions to provide 17 parking spaces and a reduction of drive aisles at 505 Baltimore Avenue, and a parking exception and setback variance at 608.
Bill Neville, the town’s director of planning and development, said arguments in favor of the projects during the public hearing included the unique size and width of the lot at 505 and the fact that creating parking in that particular neighborhood could actually help.
“Essentially the parking was being improved and the impact on the neighborhood was being reduced,” he said.
Board member Christopher Rudolf initially expressed some leeriness about the location of the lot in reference to the new hotel as well as the seemingly lopsided arrangement of the spaces. However his concerns were eased when his fellow board members pointed out that the concept has not only worked in other places, but is one of the only options.
“Complaining about parking would be like going to the beach and complaining about the sand. That’s just the way things are,” board member Brian Shane said. “In a 125-year-old downtown, we’re just going to have to work around it. They’ve come up with a very clever, not hugely elegant solution, but it’s going to work for them.”
Members of the Ocean City Development Corporation Downtown Design Committee also submitted comments in favor of the projects. Overall, a letter OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin submitted said the group has no objections to the requests and submitted several proposed amendments, including removing two employee housing units at the 608 property and removing two efficiencies at 505. The change would reduce the need for four parking spaces.
In the final unanimous approval for 505, BZA members included requirements to remove the efficiencies and add a bike rack to the plans. At 608, conditions for approval included variances for side yard setbacks and a requirement that Juliet balconies proposed for the hotel serve only as architectural features.
The project will move next to the planning phase.