Argus called the deed restriction “an impossible scenario” that would have hurt the condo project. “It allows people to get into the city and be part of the community and build an investment portfolio,” he said. There were fears in 2005, when the condos were first approved, that the project would create parking and traffic problems in the downtown area if rentals were allowed more frequently than two times a year. By Donald Wittkowski The existing retail shops on the ground floor of the four-story building on Asbury Avenue will remain open when the $6 million condo development is completed in early fall, Argus said. The condos are the latest iteration of the former Stainton’s Department Store, a century-old building that once served as the anchor of the downtown business district along Asbury Avenue. Most recently, the building has housed a gallery of retail shops. William McLees, the architect for the condo project, said it represents a “significant improvement” for the Asbury Avenue corridor. Developers Lester Argus and Brett Foxman are converting the top floors of the former Stainton’s Department Store into 22 condos ranging in price from $299,900 to $429,900. Developers Brett Foxman, left, and Lester Argus stand in front of an architectural rendering of their project. The developers recently secured a total of 10 extra parking spaces at three nearby lots to serve the condos. The 10 spaces will complement the condos’ main 24-space parking lot behind the Stainton’s building. The developers said they now have more than adequate parking capacity for the project. “I think it’s only going to benefit the restaurants if we have more people in and out,” said Norm Imber, owner of Cousin’s Restaurant at First Street and Asbury Avenue. The Ocean City Zoning Board voted 5-2 Wednesday night to lift a deed restrictionthat would have limited the renting of the condo units to just twice a year.The Zoning Board vote capped a 70-minute hearing that included testimony from planning and traffic experts representing the developers. The experts testified that the condo project would not cause parking or traffic headaches. But by a 5-2 vote Wednesday, the city’s Zoning Board removed the deed restriction at the developers’ request. The condo owners will now be free to rent out their units on a weekly basis to vacationers. The board members also said that by allowing the condos to be rented out on a weekly basis, it would draw more visitors to the downtown area and provide a boost for local businesses. Jack Plackter, an attorney for the developers, predicted that the Stainton’s building will once again become “a centerpiece of the downtown commercial area of Ocean City.” Ocean City zoning officials voted Wednesday night to lift a deed restriction that was seen as an impediment for the transformation of a downtown landmark into luxury condominiums. The second floor of the landmark Stainton’s building on Asbury Avenue will be converted into office space. The building is pictured here in 2016 undergoing renovation. Board members who voted Wednesday to lift the deed restriction said it was convoluted and outdated. They cited the findings of the Ocean City Police Department, which concluded that weekly rentals at the Stainton’s condos would not create traffic or parking headaches. “A big, empty building in the middle of winter isn’t going to do anything for the businesses there,” board member Michael Buck said of the possible impact of restricting condo rentals to just twice a year. However, board members Richard Waddell and Marshall Schmeizer cast dissenting votes. They were skeptical about the reasons for removing the deed restriction. A few members of the business community turned out to support the condo project. They urged the Zoning Board to lift the deed restriction, arguing that weekly rentals would generate extra foot traffic in the downtown area. “It’s always been the white elephant on Asbury Avenue,” McLees said of the old building. Now that the restriction has been lifted, the condo owners will be able to generate additional rental income from their units, making it more affordable for them to invest in Ocean City, Argus noted. When the condo project was originally approved in 2005, the developers agreed to a deed restriction that would have limited the units from being rented out no more than two times per year.