By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
A formerly drab public housing complex that occupies a prominent spot in downtown Ocean City is getting a makeover – both inside and out.
The five-story Bayview Manor building owned by the Ocean City Housing Authority has already received a new roof, windows and a new facade to brighten up what had been a dreary exterior.
“On the outside, there’s been a tremendous improvement. It’s a night-and-day difference. It’s beautiful,” said Bob Barr, a city councilman who also serves as the housing authority’s chairman.
Now, the interior of the building from the first to the fifth floor will undergo extensive renovation for the first time since Bayview Manor was constructed in the 1960s to provide affordable housing for Ocean City residents, Barr said. The building overlooks West Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets in the heart of downtown.
For the second phase of the project, the authority’s seven-member board unanimously awarded a $1.1 million construction contract Tuesday for interior renovations.
“That building hasn’t been touched on the inside since it was built,” Barr of the need for renovations.
Work will include renovations to the lobby, community room, bathrooms, laundry room, maintenance room, the office and conference room, new flooring, new paint and new handrails throughout the hallways. Earlier, new heating and air-conditioning systems were installed in the units of each resident.
“It will be commensurate with what Ocean City is all about. It will be what the residents have come to expect and deserve,” Barr said of transforming the building into an attractive place to live.
Construction is scheduled to begin in early September. Levy Construction Co. Inc., of Oaklyn, N.J., oversaw Bayview Manor’s exterior work and followed up by submitting the lowest bid to win the contract for the interior renovations.
“I think the building looks great on the outside. It’s shaping up really, really nice,” Jacqueline Jones, the housing authority’s executive director, told the board members at their monthly meeting Tuesday.
The authority is also setting up a meeting with a landscape architect for landscaping improvements that will be done in the fall to dress up the exterior even more.
The renovations to the building’s exterior and interior are designed to make Bayview Manor more compatible with the housing authority’s nearly $7 million Speitel Commons complex that opened next door last year.
The four-story, 32-unit Speitel building, which provides affordable housing for senior citizens, has been widely praised for its modern architecture that adds an attractive new touch to Ocean City’s downtown business district.
Once the renovations are completed to the nearly 50-unit Bayview Manor, it will share facilities with Speitel Commons in a campus-like setting. Bayview will include a community center for residents of both buildings and office space for the housing authority on the first floor.
All along, the housing authority has wanted its two buildings on West Avenue to blend in with the rest of the surrounding downtown neighborhood, an enclave of retail, commercial and public buildings that include the Ocean City Fire Department headquarters across the street.
The city, meanwhile, is providing the funding for the $1.1 million contract for the interior renovations at Bayview Manor.
In 2019, City Council approved a $6.6 million bond ordinance to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families. The projects will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing as part of a court settlement in 2018.
Speitel Commons replaced the Ocean City Housing Authority’s Pecks Beach Village senior-citizen complex on the north side of Fourth Street. The senior-citizen housing section of Pecks Beach Village dated to the 1960s and has since been demolished.
The plan is to use the old Pecks Beach Village senior-citizen housing site for a new 60-unit complex of affordable housing for families. The existing family housing part of Pecks Beach Village on the south side of Fourth Street will be demolished after the new project on the north side of Fourth Street is completed.
The family housing project remains in the planning stages, including lining up the funding sources. Early estimates place the cost at around $22 million to $23 million. Construction may possibly start in 2023 and take about 14 to 18 months to complete, a housing authority consultant said in an earlier interview.