Ocean City OKs Alley Changes as Demolition of Christian Brothers Retreat Approaches

first_imgThe two three-story Christian Brothers retreat buildings on Central Avenue between 30th and 31st streets were demolished in April 2014. The demolition of a landmark oceanfront retreat at 31st Street and Central Avenue moved a step closer to  reality on Thursday with a procedural vote from City Council in Ocean City.Council voted to vacate rights to an alley that never existed. For more than a century, the two three-story buildings of the De La Salle Christian Brothers Ocean Rest Educational Center sat atop the place where the alley would normally run. In a separate vote, Council accepted ownership of a short alley that does exist.The two moves were conditions of approval in a subdivision plan to allow four duplexes to replace the old three-story buildings.The Christian Brothers have been in the same location in Ocean City since 1898, and the light blue buildings on an 8-acre oceanfront property are a prominent feature of the central Ocean City skyline. The City Council vote lifts one of the final obstacles to their demolition.The land is private property and owned by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic order that announced in January 2013 that it could not afford the multimillion-dollar renovation that would be necessary to make the buildings habitable.The state fire marshal prohibited the Brothers from using the top floors of the buildings about five or six years ago, and in 2011 they were prevented from using the second floors. The structures have 19th-century plumbing. They do not conform to modern fire code or Disabilities Act requirements, and they have no heating or air-conditioning system.The Brothers sought feedback in January 2012 on a plan to demolish one building and sell two lots for residential development, then use the proceeds to fix one of the buildings for continuing use by the Brothers.The new plan calls for four residential properties that conform with existing residential zoning. The four lots would extend from Central Avenue to the beach and be twice as big as the required lot size. The Brothers intend to keep one, maybe two, of the lots for continued use as a retreat and sell the others.last_img read more