The Century I Condominium was constructed in 1975, one of the first high-rise buildings in Ocean City, MD. The building sits just off the sandy beach of the Atlantic Ocean and is flanked on the other side by Coastal Highway and the Assawoman Bay. This area became known as Ocean City North, first dubbed ‘High Rise Row’ or ‘Condo Row’ on the ‘Gold Coast’. Looking to the left when traveling toward the ocean, you can see the Century 1 building towering over the rest in the far distance from the Route 90 bridge, a welcoming sign that you're almost home!
Century I is the tallest condominium building in Ocean City and has one of the most unique building designs with 185 units in the 25-floor building. All units have two levels of townhome comfort providing an extra bit of privacy. There are six different floor plans. Each unit includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms with vanity areas, large closets, kitchen, dining area and living room with a large foyer connecting the two levels of living space. The living rooms are large with a wall-to-wall balcony sized window front leading to the oceanfront balcony. The two bedrooms are bay side with full wall-to-wall windows overlooking the bay and Coastal Highway. These units sell and rent quickly because of all the advantages and amenities that come along with them. Below is one example.
There are two front entrances off of Coastal Highway into the building parking lot. A right on 100th Street going north provides the easiest access. Park anywhere. Owners have their own parking passes. Guests receive a parking pass and registration from the management office on the lobby floor. There are two high speed elevators located in the lobby. To the right of the building is an outdoor enclosed pool, and around the right side is a service elevator for transporting luggage to your unit floor. Behind the building running parallel to the beach is a long sundeck, and to the right are showers to wash off sand and lotion before entering the pool and the building.
Condominiums with a Townhome-Flare
Condo Row History
The development of condominium buildings in 1962 began when the Ash Wednesday storm ravaged Ocean City. This storm has been considered by many to be the worst storm ever in Ocean City's recorded history. It destroyed many smaller cottages and wiped out many developer's efforts on Assateague Island to the south. As a result of the storm, the price of land in Ocean City dropped significantly and developers bought up and consolidated many large parcels in what was known as North Ocean City. Even before the storm a few different developers owned much of the land in North Ocean City, but the storm furthered the consolidation.
In 1965 the Town of Ocean City annexed North Ocean City including all the land from 41st Street to the Delaware line. This annexation meant that the Town of Ocean City, together with its economic clout, infrastructure, and building codes now governed the area.
The first high-rise planned for Ocean City was to have been built in the 1960's by developer James Caine. He planned a 30-story luxury apartment building at 120th Street but abandoned the project in 1966 citing the city’s construction restrictions as a major obstacle.
The first high-rise condominium building was Highpoint Condominium (now Highpoint North). Construction started in 1970 with initial occupancy in 1971. The 14-story building provided 104 units from efficiency to 2-bedroom configurations. Original pricing was $23,500 to $46,500. Several other projects were then in the works. At the time, Ocean City had a height restriction that limited building heights to 40-feet, a maximum of about 4- or 5-stories. Special exemption approvals were required for each taller building requested. The restriction was soon eliminated. Economic prosperity in the early 1970s, the opening of the Route 90 Bridge in 1971, and construction of the second span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which opened in 1973 drove a building frenzy. Buildings went up very quickly, and by 1973 many of the buildings we see today were underway or complete.
The recession of 1973 was fueled by gas shortages and much higher gas prices which reduced disposable income thus reducing travel to Ocean City and reduced the number of people buying vacation properties. Next, the bottom fell out of the condominium market. The condominiums were already under construction and completed, while many units sat empty. People who had already bought did not realize the rental income they needed to make their payments. In the 1970's, condominiums were a relatively new concept, and so condominium fees were not well regulated and not consistently disclosed which caused further worsening of property owners' financial situations. Prices on completed units dropped as developers became desperate to raise capital to pay building loans. As interest rates skyrocketed, unit owners began defaulting on their loans and walking away from units they could no longer afford. Construction slowed or halted on many buildings delaying their completion through 1975-1977. The glut of available units pushed many developers into bankruptcy. The situation was so severe that several Maryland banks went under, and at one point the entire Maryland Banking industry was at risk of collapse. However, by 1977 there were signs of a recovery and the Ocean City shoreline took on a brand new look.