Demolition on the long-standing Ocean Voyager Motel began this week, marking the beginning of a complete overhaul of the 33rd Street property. For the past four decades, the Ocean Voyager Motel has occupied the space between 32nd and 33rd Streets, Baltimore and Philadelphia Avenues. For many, the motel stands as a familiar marker, but with a changing economy, owner Salvatore Fasano thought it only prudent to do more than give the motel a facelift, opting instead to build a completely new hotel on the property.

Fasano reported this week that demolition should wrap-up by the end of the month, with construction on the new property set to begin in October. The demolition is a long time coming, as plans for the project initially came to light over three years ago. According to Fasano, the motel was built in the early 1960’s, with his family taking over the property in 1998. “It had its time,” said Fasano of the former building. “It just didn’t make sense to work to refurbish the place or to renovate it.” While Fasano acknowledged the nostalgic pull that the old building had on some vacationers or members of the community, he pointed out that ultimately the goal is to provide a better vacation spot and a better property for the town. “Some people felt that nostalgia of the old Ocean City, but people, when they come to town they want more for their money.”

Beyond completely demolishing the motel and building a new building, the Fasano family also opted to go the route of a franchise. The La Quinta Inn & Suites will take the place of the former Ocean Voyager Motel, and will boast 101 units, including a mix of rooms, suites, and efficiencies. “The way the market is going in the hotel industry, the best way to go right now is with a franchise,” said Fasano, noting the abundance of support and opportunity a franchise provides. Fasano also pointed out the number of successful, locally-owned hotel franchises throughout the town. “It just makes more sense,” he said.

Besides 101 rooms, the La Quinta will also house a conference room and event venue, a gym, a pool, and a 40-seat breakfast buffet area. A 3,200 square-foot bar and restaurant with a large outdoor, wrap-around deck are also included in the plans, along with a tiki bar similar to what the current property offers. “We’re putting a lot back into the property,” said Fasano. The new building will also be taller, rising to four-stories rather than two, with parking occupying the ground floor. The new bar will be situated on the corner of 33rd Street and Coastal Highway, explained Fasano, “we are pretty much rotating the whole property.”

While many of the core staff will continue to work at the property, the larger hotel will call for roughly triple the amount of employees.

Construction will continue throughout the fall and winter with, weather permitting, completion set for late May or early June of 2014. “We are 99 percent sure that we will be open by 4th of July next year,” said Fasano.