By Donald Wittkowski
Construction will begin this week on an all-suites boutique hotel that its developers plan to have ready for Ocean City’s 2020 summer tourism season.
Called the North Island Inn, the project will be built in a prime location at the corner of 10th Street and Ocean Avenue only a block from the beach and Boardwalk.
Christopher Glancey, a Sea Isle City developer who has expanded into Ocean City with his business partner Bob Morris, said the all-suites lodging will cater to families wanting to be close to the beach and Boardwalk shops, eateries and amusement rides during their summer vacations.
“You have everything Ocean City has to offer within a block away. With a family with kids, it makes your life much easier,” Glancey said in an interview Monday.
Representing their first investment in Ocean City, Glancey and Morris bought the Impala Motel last year at 10th Street and Ocean Avenue. They continue to operate the Impala, but demolished a small annex of the motel across the street along with an adjacent garage to create room for the North Island Inn.
Plans call for three stories of hotel space built over a ground-level parking garage. Glancey said the project will run in the millions, but declined to divulge the exact cost.
North Island Inn represents the first new hotel built in Ocean City in perhaps 20 years or more and will help update the lodging market with modern, family-friendly accommodations, according to Glancey.
“There haven’t been any new hotels in a long time,” he said.
The new hotel will feature 15 suites, each encompassing about 1,300 square feet of space. Glancey said the large suites will give families plenty of room and flexibility while spending their vacations at the shore.
“This is Ocean City. This is America’s Greatest Family Resort. That’s the whole idea with the suites,” Glancey pointed out.
Featuring a beach-themed design, the North Island Inn will position itself as a “mid-market” property to make the suites affordable to Ocean City’s typical family vacationers, Glancey said.
“It’s going to be nice and new, but it’s not going to be anything outrageous,” he said.
The Impala, meanwhile, will continue to operate as a mid-level motel, Glancey noted. The Impala advertises itself as budget lodging, but its location at 10th Street and Ocean Avenue provides guests with a prime spot just a block away from the beach and Boardwalk.
Glancey and Morris inherited the North Island Inn project when they bought the Impala last year from motel operator Anthony J. Frank and his family for an undisclosed price. The hotel project was granted Ocean City Planning Board approval in 2017 when it was being proposed then by Frank.
Before expanding into the Ocean City market, Glancey and Morris spent millions of dollars to build mixed-used projects in Sea Isle City that combined retail shops, restaurants and upscale condominiums.
Glancey and Morris began in 2016 with their trendy Dunes development, a restaurant and condominium complex on Landis Avenue between 86th and 87th streets in Sea Isle’s Townsends Inlet section.
They followed up on the Dunes with two more mixed-use projects in Townsends Inlet called the Cove and the Cape. The three-story buildings, which blend retail, commercial and condo space, are located a block from each other on Landis Avenue between 85th and 87th streets.
The Impala Motel deal last year closely followed Glancey and Morris’ $7.3 million purchase of the LaCosta Lounge, a popular Sea Isle bar that has been a centerpiece of the beach town’s entertainment scene since the 1960s.
Glancey and Morris plan to redevelop the LaCosta site with a new hotel, bars and a restaurant, but are holding off on construction until late 2019. This is expected to be the last year for LaCosta, which will be demolished to create room for the new development.