CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Nearly 20 properties owned by the township will be auctioned off in October, in a sale that could raise as much as $600,000 for the municipality’s general fund.
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, committee members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of 19 of about 250 township-owned properties within Middle Township’s borders. All total, surplus property throughout the township is assessed at about $7.7 million.
In the first round of sales, the 19 properties are assessed at $634,300, though Business Administrator Elizabeth Terenik said that in her experience at auction, properties are typically sold for about 50 percent of their assessed value.
“There is no minimum bid,” Terenik said. “These are the properties of the 250 that we feel are the most desirable, buildable, or ones that the township has had for a long period of time.”
There will be more auctions in the months to come, Terenik said, as township officials – including the tax assessor and the zoning officer – assess the value and desirability of property owned by the township.
Yet the goal, said Mayor Mike Clark, is less about developing a revenue stream and more about selling unneeded, surplus township property to return that land to private ownership and the municipality’s tax rolls.
“It’s important to get these properties back on the tax roll,” Clark said. “Getting them on the tax roll is going to help the administration now and the administrations going forward.”
Clark said any revenue generated by the sale would be put into municipal coffers. “We can help lower taxes, or keep them low, or put that money into surplus,” he said. “If it’s in surplus, we can get the money quickly if we have a project.”
Max Spann, a real estate and auction company, will conduct the auction of the surplus properties at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11 in the Municipal Courtroom, 2 South Boyd St.
Prior to the sale, Terenik said, the company has set two classes for people interested in buying the properties – from 2-4 p.m., Fridays, Sept. 15 and 22, also at the Municipal Courtroom.
“They’ll have rolling 15 minute classes during the two-hour period,” Terenik said. “Potential buyers don’t have to stay for the whole two hours.”
Terenik proposed the sale of surplus properties to committee members earlier this year. There are several hundred acres of property scattered around the town – lots as small as 10 feet by 100 feet, and as large as 16 acres, she said.
Much of the land is landlocked. A few parcels have existing structures, such as shacks, that need to be removed. But all of the property could be valuable to the right person Terenik said.
“There are 250 township owned surplus properties, not in use, that are assessed at $7.7 million,” Terenik said. “I’m suggesting that every single property be auctioned off.”
Undersized lots are unbuildable, and landlocked properties can’t be easily reached. But neighbors to the properties may be interested in expanding their own lots. Communities may want to pull together to purchase a section of land for a community garden.
In 2016, Terenik helmed a similar project as the planning and development director in Atlantic City, her job previous to taking on the role of business administrator in Middle Township.
Terenik said that sale brought $1.7 million to Atlantic City, less than the assessed value, yet still a considerable sum. And that property, once back into private hands, would generate tax revenue, she said.
There are no upfront costs to the township for the auction, as the auction company will take a percentage of the sale price for each property. Likewise, there are costs for potential bidders to take part in the auction – unless they win the bid.
According to Monday’s resolution, successful buyers will pay an extra 10 percent above the winning bid to fund the cost of the auction company.
“There’s been a lot of interest in this sale since the first time you wrote about it,” Terenik said, referring to a Gazette story. “A lot of people are looking to buy in Middle Township, and this auction is a win-win for the township and its residents.”
Properties in the first auction include: 128 Beach Ave., 60x75, assessed at $109,000 with a house valued at $35,200; 3 Ella Ave., 50x100, assessed at $59200; 66 Bay Shore Road, 1.45 acres, assessed at $56,400; 1909 Route 9 South, 100x300, assessed at $64,000; and Detroit Avenue, 2.53 acres, assessed at 14,900.
For a complete list of the 19 properties scheduled for auction, along with maps of the area, see www.maxspann.com/auctions.