Hurricane Sandy moved on to the history books after ripping up the East Coast last October, but the annual summer long beach party in this region is revving up anew with plenty to do, see and eat.
Memorial Day Week is almost here. So, too, is Senior Beach Week for many among this year's high school Class of 2013 graduates. The somnolent resorts of the Maryland and Delaware's Eastern Shore are coming alive. In addition to long-time perennially favorite shops, eateries and events, many new hot spots have opened in time for the summer season.
Though 100 feet of the 489-foot downtown Ocean City fishing pier was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the shore areas around Ocean City, Bethany Beach, Del., and Rehoboth Beach, Del., were not impacted as severely as shore towns further north in New Jersey and New York. The pier is expected to be repaired by summertime.
"We were lucky," said Carol Everhart, CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center. "The beach took a hit from the storm, but we've had beach replenishment. The dunes held, so we have a full beach and we have our boardwalk. The beachside was fine after the storm. The bayside had some damage, but everything is back in order."
The damage further north is impacting sales and rentals along the Maryland and Delaware shore.
"We are currently 28 percent ahead of last year," said Pat Terrill, a rental manager at Prudential Pen-Fed Realty. "New Jersey clients are used to taking big families to the beach. They're looking for large, 8-bedroom houses. We don't have that many, so, here, they are renting multiple units in a building."
Though she is not seeing any increases in rental rates, Chris Jett of Vantage Resort Realty said her phone has been ringing for months.
"People are looking for rentals now," Jett said. "People waiting until later may be disappointed."
Realtors are busy with both selling resort properties as well as rentals, said Sheila J. Dodson, executive director of Coastal Association of Realtors of Md., Inc.
"The combination of lower interest rates and lower asking prices is making it an excellent opportunity for buyers," she said.
The Coastal Association has two websites where consumers can search for available properties:
Bethany Beach has seen another form of disruption. One of its main roadways has been under reconstruction since early February. The project, involving 2 ½ blocks of Garfield Parkway from Del. 1, past Atlantic and Pennsylvania avenues to the boardwalk, is the first phase. More work will be done later in the year, after the summer season is over.
"When Garfield Parkway is done by this spring, it will take the charm factor of Bethany Beach up tenfold," said David Martin, executive director of the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce.
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"It's always been a charming old-style town at the beach, but with the plantings and special features, this renovation of Garfield will take it up," Martin said. "It's a special place and always has been."