By MADDY VITALE
An upscale condominium project that, if approved, would be in Ocean City’s Historic District, will once again be a topic at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Tuesday night.
The three-story project, called “The Wesley,” was voted down 4-2 during a May 17 commission meeting. The plan at 801 Wesley Ave. consisted of four condos, each about 4,000 square feet. Each condo would have four parking spaces. There would also be a roughly 3,000-square-foot space for commercial use, such as a restaurant.
But at the time of the meeting, commission members wanted the plan revised, if it were to be approved.
In an email Sunday, property owner Raj Khatiwala said that the project was revised.
“We incorporated all of the changes requested and changed the flat roof to a pitched roof with traditional brackets, brick facade, and new spindles that the commission suggested,” he said. “We are even more excited with how this came out and glad we made some changes.”
Homeowners in the Historic District who had come out to the May meeting as well as commission members said that the project did not look compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, which features homes from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Khatiwala is hopeful that the changes to the plan will please all parties.
Commission members will hear from Khatiwala, along with his architect, William McLees, Tuesday on revisions made that may — or may not — lead to a vote in the affirmative by the commission for the project.
While proponents of the project say it would be a vast improvement over what is currently there, some of the residents say it is just too modern looking no matter what changes are made to some of the exterior areas.
Richard Barth, a resident in the Historic District and the administrator of the Facebook page, “Ocean City Old Home Lovers,” urged residents to attend the Tuesday meeting.
Barth said in a recent Facebook post, “This is our chance to hear the latest plans for 801 Wesley. We need to come out and make our presence known. Our voices matter. Now we are back in the arena on 801 Wesley.”
He continued, “In this case, the developer has wanted to build a hyper-modern condo complex in the middle of Ocean City’s cherished Historic District. Everyone reading this knows that new homes can be built that fit into the district — that was done in just the past few years when a parking lot was converted on 8th and Wesley. That is all for which we are asking.”
The existing building at 801 Wesley Ave. is in the city’s Central Business Zone. It was most recently Still Waters Stress Center. For decades, beginning in the 1960s, it was Knight’s Pharmacy, owned and operated by the late Mayor Henry “Bud” Knight.
Prior to that, the corner of Eighth Street and Wesley Avenue was the site of a hotel that went through several name changes over the years. At one point it was the Wesley Arms Hotel before the building was demolished.
While the commission did vote to allow demolition of the existing building at 801 Wesley Ave., Khatiwala said that he will wait until the outcome of the project plans before demolition.
The Historic District stretches between Third and Eighth streets and Central and Ocean avenues. Homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries line the streets.
The district is governed by ordinances designed to preserve the character of the neighborhoods near the Ocean City Tabernacle, where Ocean City was founded and first settled.