Why Is Ocean City, New Jersey Paying $20 Million For This Lot?
In South Jersey, one Coastal Community has been fighting for years to have more open space and not more developments. But now a huge price has to paid to settle a dispute that could have been resolved over five years ago.
The town is Ocean City, New Jersey and the property is where a Chevrolet dealership use to be located in town. The 85,688-square-foot lot between 16th and 17th street that separates Simpson and Haven Avenues is where the Perry-Egan Chevrolet Dealership (Later Ocean City Chevrolet) use to stand. The South Jersey town is being forced to pay $20 Million for a property they could have obtain for $9 million five years earlier.
After the dealership was shutdown in 2018, the plan of the property owners was to turn the area into Single Family Homes. But the Ocean City Government was opposed to the Klause Enterprises' plan and wanted to create more open space. The Cape May County Coastal Community had a similar plan on the lot between 15th and 16th streets where the SuperFresh Supermarket use to stand. Today that lot is an Athletics Field typically used for soccer.
The Municipality was originally going to pay $9 Million to purchase the land outright from the Klause Family. But a local political group called Fairness in Taxes rallied Ocean City voters to block the sale and forced the Municipality to back out of the deal.
But why is Ocean City paying 300 percent more for a property that they offered to purchase for $9 Million in 2018?
Well in 2020, the Municipality used Eminent Domain to obtain the property and in 2022 a group of Independent Commissioners gave a new evaluation of the property for $13.02 million.
But that number was not accepted by the Cape May County Superior Court and the Klause Family won in court thanks to a Jury award them a property evaluation of $17.86 Million. So in an effort to offset any further Interest Payments, the City Council of Ocean City has settled on paying $20 Million and to proceed with the Municipality's plans to turn the lot into open space with some overflow parking for the neighboring Community Center.
Back in the 1990's the area between 15th and 17th streets was a business section with the Perry-Egan Car Dealership, CVS Pharmacy, Laundromat, and SuperFresh Supermarket (formerly known as A&P). Today only the CVS is still there and for 20 Million dollars Ocean City gets the open space they wanted
Maybe that feisty political group in 2018 should have just left the issue alone because their meddling created a domino effect that now creates a new burden for the small South Jersey town with an estimated 6,900 year-round residents will have to deal with moving forward.
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