The planned Cambria will add an eight-and-a-half story, 126-room hotel to the OC skyline.
The Ocean City skyline may soon host a host a new signature structure, as plans for construction of a Cambria Hotel received approval to seek building permits.
The plan for the hotel, presented in front of the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 18, spelled out the plans for an eight and half story, 126 room structure to be located at the former site of the George B. Cropper Concrete Plant at the foot of the Route 50 Bridge. This location, owner Tauhid Islam said, will be a welcomed addition to the Ocean City culture. Previously the project was a collaboration between Ocean City Development Corporation and Ropewalk Bel-Air LLC, a Baltimore-based restaurant chain that runs famous properties in Ocean City and Fenwick Island, but Ropewalk is no longer involved with the project, Islam said.
The Cambria will include an ambitious range of resort features; from a rooftop bar to a pool stretching through indoor and outdoor segments, with the goal of creating a true destination attraction in the bustling Ocean City downtown area.
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"Our goal is to have a building that is a unique addition to the culture and environment of Ocean City," Islam said. "We want it to be a building that, when you're driving into Ocean City, really stands out on the skyline."
Islam said that the new structure, from the surrounding greenery to the parking lot, will fit into the overarching Ocean City culture in ways that are both unique and in line with tradition, while not impeding on the neighboring community.
"This will not be a regular franchise," Islam said. "We've done several properties, our first being a boutique in Chincoteague, that really become signature parts of the community. Working with Cambria, I think, gives us the opportunity to do that."
Islam's properties include the Marina Bay Hotel and Suites on Chincoteague.
The approval of the site plan passed through the commissioners with a vote of 4-0, with commissioner Lauren Taylor abstaining. Taylor, had cited concerns of impact on the current view of Ocean City from West Ocean City and the Route 50 bridge, as well as blocking of wind through the town.
Islam said that he believes that the hotel would be adding something to Ocean City, rather than taking away.
"I believe her concern was basically in keeping things the way they are," Islam said.
Site plan applicant Keith Fisher, founder of Fisher Architecture, said that the addition of the hotel will benefit, rather than hurt, the Ocean City horizon.
"We're hoping that this will add to the view of Ocean City," Fisher said. "Our goal is for a truly iconic piece of architecture."
Addressing the issue of the Ocean City view at the Jan. 18 meeting, planning director Bill Neville said that the hotel could serve as a clear benefit to the Ocean City landscape.
"I think it's highly debatable whether adding this hotel would have a detriment on the view of Ocean City," Neville said.
Islam also noted that the Cambria would not be alone on the Ocean City skyline, noting the eight story Belmont Towers, located on Dorchester Street, as precedent for the hotel's stature.
Fisher said that the plan for the hotel has approached the project, on a particularly valuable parcel of land in Ocean City, with the utmost of caution, adapting to fall in line with the commission.
"We've centered the property, so we don't impact neighboring properties as much, and we've listened to the town, mayor and commissioners to try and make something that works for everyone," Fisher said.
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Fisher also noted that the plan to build vertically, rather than having a larger ground area, and strategically pushing the project as far away from the road as possible as other strategies to curb concerns. Additionally, Fisher Architecture presented a rendering and video of potential wind impact from the hotel's construction to the commissioners.
With the site plan approved , Fisher and Islam said the arduous process of receiving building permits and constructing begins. With an 18-month estimated construction time, Islam said ground should be broken by late spring.
"We still have to meet with the State Highway Administration, but we're hoping to have the permits by mid or the end of February," Islam said. "From there, we're planning on breaking ground by mid-April or May."