Neighbors, council back $2.6M loan to fix up Dan’s Dock

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Dan’s Dock at 10th Street as it stands today. The area is fenced off, and the building is deteriorating. The city attorney called it a blighted area. Dan’s Dock at 10th Street as it stands today. The area is fenced off, and the building is deteriorating. The city attorney called it a blighted area. OCEAN CITY — With an outpouring of support from neighbors and assurances from the city administration, City Council unanimously backed loaning $2.6 million to the Gill family for the renovation of the former Dan’s Dock at 10th Street and the bay.

The building and property are vacant and in the hands of the banks that foreclosed on the former owner. About half of the city money, $1.4 million, would go to purchasing the property, with the remaining $1.2 million to fund the extensive renovations needed to reopen the marina and restaurant.

The proposal calls for 18 boat slips and 44 parking spaces on site.  

Council unanimously approved a redevelopment agreement with the Gills for the property, and introduced a $2.6 million bond ordinance, which still faces a public hearing and final vote on June 26.

A proposed three story building, to include retail space and residential units on the top floor, would be funded by the Gill family, according to city officials.

The plan calls for the city to borrow the money though short-term bond anticipation notes, and for the funds to be repaid within seven years, city finance director Frank Donato explained at the council meeting.

At the start of the Thursday evening meeting, numerous neighbors of the Palen Avenue property pushed hard for the deal, saying it would be good for the community and that the Gill family are the ones to see it through.

One man said the site now looks like a prison, another compared it to a war zone.

Several people said Ocean City needs a commercial marina, where there used to be several, and others said the Gill family has always been good neighbors.

The family lives in the neighborhood and owned and operated Dan’s Dock there for 20 years. They now operate Tackle Direct in Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township.

Carla Migliaccio questioned how much money the corner will cost the city in the future if it is not fixed up, adding that the Gills were a good investment, while Jeff Valentine said when he was stationed in Ocean City with the Coast Guard, the Gill family could be counted on to come out and open up the dock during search and rescue operations in the middle of the night, allowing the Coast Guard to fuel up and continue searching.

In a detailed presentation to City Council, city attorney Dottie McCrosson said redevelopment agreements are very common elsewhere in New Jersey, but are not particularly familiar in Ocean City.
“This property is undeniable a blighted area,” she said.

The bulkhead is deteriorating, the building, abandoned years ago, has been home to squatters, and in 2012, the city fenced off the building over safety concerns. According to McCrosson, the process of designating a redeveloper for the property and declaring it in need of redevelopment has been ongoing for some time, and the subject of extensive public hearings.

It’s been more than a year since the Gill family, operating as Bayfront Preservation Foundation, presented a rehabilitation plan to City Council.

McCrosson told City Council Thursday that no other potential developers have come forward, and that the Gill family has not been able to secure financing privately, in part because private investors would not have the same motivation to return services to Ocean City as does city government.

Unlike redevelopment plans used elsewhere, she said, there is no plan for a tax abatement offer or the creation of a payment in lieu of taxation, or PILOT program for the property. Once it’s sold, it will go back on the tax roll.

Council members expressed some concerns, including a worry about what would happen if the environmental remediation comes in way over the estimated cost, but strongly supported both the resolution and the ordinance.

Administration officials said it would be up to the Gills to fund any additional cost for the environmental work.

Most on council see the project as important not only to the neighborhood, but also to the city.

A rendering shows what the site may look like in the future. A three story building, to include residential and commercial uses, still needs approval from the Planning Board, and will be built without city money, according to a presentation to City Council Thursday. A rendering shows what the site may look like in the future. A three story building, to include residential and commercial uses, still needs approval from the Planning Board, and will be built without city money, according to a presentation to City Council Thursday. Councilman Scott Ping said, excluding the new Route 52 causeway, the project will be one of the best things to happen to Ocean City in a couple of decades.

“It’s something the city really needs to see come back to life,” he said.  

 


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