OCEAN CITY – A new shopping center is being proposed to breathe new life into rare empty parcels of land on 67th Street.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
This week the Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed a couple of site plans, one being a proposed 20,727-square-foot commercial shopping center, known as the 67th Street Town Center, to be located on the west side of Coastal Highway and north side of 67th Street.
Several different proposals have been made in the past to develop the land, as recently as January 2011 when the commission gave the go-ahead for a hotel and multi-family townhouse project.
Commission member Peck Miller recused himself from the discussion as the owner of the project and presented the shopping center plans along with architect Jeff Schoellkopf.
The proposed shopping center’s immediate neighbors are Old Pro Gold, World Gym and Sunset Island and Marina.
Schoellkopf, whose family owns Old Pro Golf, explained that the architectural influences are based on the coastal tradition of the town.
“We really are trying to play off of Sunset Island so the architecture is very similar, with similar materials and color palette with white and cream trim, and pastels,” he said.
A defining feature of the project is an elevated, handicap accessible, Boardwalk walkway along the entire shopping center to give a “beachy” character.
“It is a lot of Boardwalk connecting a lot of different areas on the ground and the plaza area upfront also,” Miller said. “A lot of different areas can have tables and chairs and umbrellas also. Just making it a mid-town Boardwalk is what I am trying to do.”
The shopping center is a ‘V’ shape with the corner of 67th Street being the center with a prominent corner tower and gables coming off on both sides to lead to towers on both ends. It front of the center tower there is a small plaza and there will be a crosswalk attached to lead pedestrians through the parking lot to the corner of 67th Street where a bus shelter sits.
The entire shopping center is split into four building with alleys connecting the front and back parking lots. The building will be titled as mix-use, leaving opportunities for retail, office space and restaurants.
The design of the shopping leaves room to grow and Miller referred to possibly building a hotel in the future.
“This is a code compliant predictable building on the property that is going to work and that is something that the town has to show people whether it’s through me or anybody else that these things can be built,” Miller said.
Commission member Lauren Taylor made a motion to approve the site plan subject to staff recommendations and the commission unanimously agreed.
“It is a beautiful project and a great use of the space,” Taylor said.
The commission also approved a site plan for a 2,475-square-foot addition to the Sunsations on the west side of Coastal Highway on 94nd Street.
The shopping center had included a building in the north side of the front building that has served as real estate offices and most recently a cigar shop, but has recently been demolished and converted into parking.
“I am thrilled that we are keeping that vista open with the building going back,” Commission Chair Pam Buckley said. “It looks so good right now not having that building on the corner, so I am thrilled to see the parking and let’s get some nice landscaping that will survive and have an area for the people who are waiting for lights. We are trying to become more pedestrian friendly and have a place for the pedestrians to be.”
Buckley pointed out that the addition will become connected to adjacent condos, and the commission’s approval became contingent upon the approval of the condominium association’s approval, larger sidewalk space on the corner of 94th Street for pedestrian safety, a sign upgrade and the light foot metric design.