Home Latest Stories Future Ocean City Housing Site Will Remain Green Space for Now

Future Ocean City Housing Site Will Remain Green Space for Now

4013
SHARE
Construction rubble must be removed from the old Pecks Beach Village housing site before it is temporarily converted into green space.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

The modest, cottage-style homes are gone.

All that remain are piles of concrete rubble and other demolition debris.

Soon, the rubble will be removed and what will take its place is open space with plenty of green grass.

“We’ll be cutting grass this summer – a lot of grass,” said Jacqueline Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Housing Authority.

The authority has completed the demolition of 21 tiny homes dating to the 1960s that were once part of its Pecks Beach Village affordable housing complex on Fourth Street.

The site will eventually be redeveloped for 60 new units of affordable housing, but the project is still only in the preliminary stages. Construction is not expected to begin until sometime in 2023.

In the meantime, the housing authority wants to create an attractive parcel of green space that will blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

“It has to stay that way until the next phase,” Jones said of the transition from green space to construction. “We want to make it as nice as we can.”

Jones noted that the authority will save the existing trees on the property to make the site more attractive.

But first, the demolition contractor must remove the ugly piles of concrete rubble that are the remnants of the old, cottage-like homes. Jones said the site should be cleaned up by this week or next. The planting of grass seeds will follow.

An excavator’s gaping claw demolishes one of the old homes at Pecks Beach Village last week.

For about 60 years, this part of Pecks Beach Village on the south side of Fourth Street served as affordable housing for senior citizens. The senior citizens who lived in the flood-prone complex have since been moved to the Ocean City Housing Authority’s new $7 million Speitel Commons affordable housing complex on Sixth Street and West Avenue.

The south side of Fourth Street will serve as the development site for 60 new units of affordable housing for the families that live in another part of Pecks Beach Village, along the north side of Fourth Street.

The housing authority is still lining up the financing for the estimated $22 million to $23 million project. Construction is expected to take about 15 to 18 months to complete once it begins in 2023.

The new housing development will be protected from the type of flooding that swamped the old Pecks Beach Village senior citizens complex.

At this time, Pecks Beach Village also has 40 units of family-style housing on the north side of Fourth Street. Those older units will be demolished once the new housing is built.

City Council President Bob Barr, who also serves as chairman of the Ocean City Housing Authority, calls it “a new age with the most modern and most advanced homes we could give our residents.”

The project will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing under a court settlement in 2018.

The existing family-style homes at Pecks Beach Village will be demolished after the new housing project is built.

Ocean City is also planning to mix in another type of affordable housing for families thanks to a $2 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The project calls for five duplexes having a total of 10 rental units of affordable housing in different locations across town.

Two duplexes offering affordable housing will be built at 3300 Bay Ave. at the former American Legion post property, another two at 240-244 Haven Ave. and the fifth at 224 Simpson Ave. They will offer a mix of two or three-bedroom units.

However, the project suffered a setback Tuesday when the Ocean City Community Development Corp., the housing authority’s nonprofit affiliate, voted to reject the lone construction bid. The bid came in at $4.2 million and was made by Gary F. Gardner Inc. of Medford, N.J.

Jones explained that the bid was approximately $1.6 million over the budgeted amount. New bids will be sought in May.

In January, the Ocean City Community Development Corp. rejected another bid for the project, also made by Gary F. Gardner Inc. That bid was for $4.1 million.

Jones said the plan is to get more construction companies to submit bids the next time around to generate more competition and lower prices.

“We want to make sure we are reaching as many contractors and vendors that we can to get some competition,” she said.

In addition to the $2 million in funding from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, the city will also help to finance the project.

Barr said the project is a key part of the city’s efforts to attract new families to Ocean City.

This vacant property at 240-244 Haven Avenue is the proposed site for two duplexes of affordable housing.