Ocean City’s iconic boardwalk could see arrival of $150M luxury hotel

Could Ocean City see its first luxury hotel in 50 years?

Plans to develop a new $150 million hotel on Ocean City’s boardwalk were unveiled during a presentation Thursday night before the city council.

Luxury resort brand Icona Resorts presented designs for a high-rise hospitality building with 325 rooms, retail and family-friendly amenities.

Eustace Mita, chairman and CEO of Icona Resorts, said his proposed hotel project would span 5th and 6th Streets on land between Ocean City High School and the beach. The location would put it next to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Boardwalk amusement park owned by Mayor Jay Gillian and Mita.

The news was first reported by OCNJDaily.com.

Mita, however, needs the city to sell him the municipally-owned parcel, which currently serves as a public parking lot. It also would require a zoning change, because the city’s current zoning laws do not allow hotel development for that property.

In fact, hotel construction is not allowed on the Boardwalk and high-rises are prohibited throughout town. Then, there would be a slew of governmental regulatory approvals to develop the hotel.

“The city-owned land would be put up for sale to the highest bidder,” Stephen Nehmad, Mita’s attorney, was quoted as saying if Ocean City decided to part with the property.

While specific details are preliminary at this point, it is exciting to think what a hotel would do for Ocean City, which hasn’t had a new hotel in over 50 years. Developing one to the proposed scale would be a boon to the tourism of the Jersey Shore town.

Icona Resorts is no stranger to the hospitality sector. It already owns successful properties that were all older assets in need of renovation in other Jersey Shore towns, including Avalon, Diamond Beach and Cape May.

For the Ocean City project, Mita and his representatives emphasized the building would offer the upscale feel of the resort-style hotel with a classic design.

“What we want here is to create a destination,” Alvar Cortada Kosonen, one of Mita’s architects, told city council.