Planning Board Approves New Marina Complex for Ocean City’s Bayfront

first_imgAn architectural rendering depicts the proposed 10th Street Wharf project that was approved Wednesday night by the Ocean City Planning Board.By Donald Wittkowski Jessel noted the challenges the Gills will face in locating a commercial business in the midst of a residential area, but cautioned the neighbors about expecting “perfection.” Ocean City has plenty of boats, but no place to gas them up. But all of that is expected to change this spring when a new marina opens up on the formerly abandoned and blighted site that once served as the home for Dan’s Dock. Loeper recalled how his family kept their boat at the old Dan’s Dock when he was growing up. He said it was beyond his “wildest imagination” that the site would be transformed into a new marina 60 years later. Gill’s team of professional consultants repeatedly told the Planning Board that the project would rejuvenate an area of the bayfront desperately in need of redevelopment. “It’s going to be an anchor for the bayfront,” Planning Board Chairman John Loeper said. After a nearly four-hour hearing Wednesday night, the Planning Board voted 8-1 to approve the proposed 10th Street Wharf project. It will be owned and operated by Tom Gill, a lifelong Ocean City resident who has more than 50 years of experience in the marina business. Michael Allegretto, the Planning Board member who cast the lone dissenting vote against the project, said he couldn’t remember any mention of an automobile gas station in the project’s original plans. He also expressed concerns about the parking plans. “This was a deplorable property. It was an eyesore,” Tiffany Cuviello, Gill’s planner, said of the old Dan’s Dock site. Gill’s multifaceted project will be far more than a marina. It will also include a three-story building consisting of a cafe-style restaurant, a bait and tackle shop and an apartment where Gill and his wife Beverly will live while overseeing the business. The site will also include gas operations serving both cars and boats. At the urging of Planning Board members, Gill said he is willing to work with Ball to try to resolve some of the conflicts. “The Gills, it seems, have made 98 percent of the people happy,” Jessel said. “Overall, the project is a benefit. There are no detriments,” she said. Boaters have to trek over to Somers Point or Marmora to buy fuel before heading out to the bays or ocean for a leisurely day on the water. “The idea was to provide an economically viable and sustainable business,” he said.center_img Carla Migliaccio, a resident of Palen Avenue since 1961, credited Gill for cleaning up the “monstrosity of a headache” that was once Dan’s Dock. Cuviello predicted that the 10th Street Wharf project would bring the bayfront “back to what it once was.” Gill’s son, Patrick, said the marina, which will have 23 slips, is expected to open by June. Construction on the three-story building containing the restaurant and retail space may begin as early as this fall and take about a year to complete, he said. Other Planning Board members, though, enthusiastically endorsed the project. They touted the benefits to the local boating community as well as the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood. Board member Gary Jessel said the Gill family has worked closely with the neighbors to satisfy their concerns. Residents who live next to the site generally spoke in support of the project, but some of them objected to having fuel sales for automobiles. They told the Planning Board that the development would put a busy gas station in the middle of their neighborhood, creating noise and traffic congestion on narrow Palen Avenue. Other neighbors praised Gill for cooperating with the community. Gill himself is part of the bayfront neighborhood, living on Palen Avenue. Although Allegretto said he was in favor of redeveloping the site into a marina, restaurant and retail complex, his objections about the gas station and parking prompted his no vote. Planning Board members said the project will revitalize a dilapidated bayfront area at 10th Street and Palen Avenue and finally give the city a place where local boaters can fuel up. Gill and his family owned the old Dan’s Dock site from 1979 to 2001, but the marina fell into disrepair after they sold it. Eventually, the business ended in foreclosure. Gill bought it back and launched his plans to revive the marina with a new business called the 10th Street Wharf.Developer Tom Gill, a businessman and lifelong Ocean City resident, describes his plans for building a marina, restaurant and retail complex at 10th Street and Palen Avenue.In testimony before the Planning Board, Gill said he was excited about the prospect of resurrecting the site with an entirely new business. Jack Ball, who lives on Palen Avenue, next to the development site, brought an attorney and a professional planner to the board hearing Wednesday night to argue against proposed changes in the project that Ball believes would be disruptive. Ball said he supports the project overall, but is not in favor of plans for a loading zone, trash removal and an outdoor deck for the restaurant near his home. “They’re greatly going to affect, as we see it, our quality of life,” said Ball, who serves as the chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Committee. City Council had previously approved a resolution declaring the property was in need of rehabilitation. A development agreement with the Gills was approved by the city in 2014, setting the stage for the family to revive the site. “It’s going to be a bonus for the city,” Migliaccio said of Gill’s project.last_img read more