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A Margaritaville Resort complete with hotel, conference, restaurant and retail space is tentatively planned for a city block on 13th and 14th streets. Developers presented early plans to the Ocean City Planning Commission this week.

A massive and “beautiful” hotel conference and restaurant complex could alter the landscape in a prime downtown Ocean City spot.

The project, marketed as a 13-story, 265-room Margaritaville Resort complete with conference space, high-end restaurants, boutique retail space, multiple pools and more, is proposed for the former Philips Beach Plaza property at 13th and 14th streets.

On Tuesday, developers brought the concept to members of the Ocean City Planning Commission for an informal discussion. The discussion was needed so developers can seek the planned overlay district designation needed to construct a project of this scale.

“We do believe everything about this will be very positive,” said former Ocean City zoning administrator Blaine Smith, a facilitator for the project, during the discussion. “It will enhance the experience people have when they come to Ocean City.”

He added that the developers are marketing the complex as a “destination point.”

“We believe what we do here will complement that effort and bring the type of clientele that will make a difference to Ocean City — the Boardwalk experience and the Ocean City experience,” Smith said.

Planning commissioners spoke highly of the design and concept, but worried about a city-owned alley that divides the two properties set for development. The alley, known as Washington Lane, is set to be incorporated into the design of the complex within the proposed development plans, but several of the commissioners were leery about building over it.

Commissioner Peck Miller called the project “beautiful” and gorgeous” during Tuesday’s discussion, but followed up with concerns about a potential “double dipping” to reduce parking spaces. The commissioners all agreed that parking will need to be considered, and the developers said they will address those concerns in the plans when they complete them.

The developers also appeared before the Ocean City Council last week to obtain permission to use Washington Lane as part of the overall square footage of the project to obtain the overlay district approval.

Without the alley, which runs between the two parcels set for development, the area is 85,200 square feet. City code requires properties to be at least 90,000 square feet to be combined into an overlay district and rezoned. While they cannot be combined if split by a street, an alley is fair game.

The council members voted last week to allow the developer to proceed with the application, which sent them to the planning commission for Tuesday’s discussion. They will now put together their application as the next step in the process.

This story appears in the printed version of the Ocean City Today on Aug. 6, 2021.

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