BID buys downtown lot from Wildwood

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WILDWOOD—Businesses in the city’s downtown were the lone bidders on the parking lot on Schellenger and Pacific avenues.

The downtown Business Improvement District, or BID, placed an $800,000 bid at a public auction Thursday morning. The district paid $80,000 up front, and is borrowing the remainder through a loan from Crest Savings Bank.

The BID was represented by its executive director, Patrick Rosenello, and attorney Andrew Catanese. Local business owners that had previously leased spots in the municipal lot, including Wally Lero of the Bolero hotel, Val Trivelis of Schellenger’s Restaurant, and Jodie DiEduardo of Crest Savings Bank, also came to the auction, among others.

Business owners were first critical of the plan to sell the lot because they had come to depend on the spots they leased from the city. After backlash about the plan, commissioners changed the resolution and deed restricted the lot so that the 2.2 acres would have to remain parking.

When the lot was first approved for sale, Commissioner Pete Byron said that the city was not working to close any sort of gap in their 2014 budget or to offset a loss. He explained that the city could no longer afford to maintain the lot, and that the leases of some spots weren’t covering those costs.

Byron said the main motivation was to get the parking lot onto the city’s tax roll.

Rosenello said that the BID planned to pay taxes on the property, which currently has an assessed value of $3 million. Byron explained at Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting that the lot was last assessed before the 2008 market crash, and because the city owned the property, that assessment was never challenged. He added that like selling a home, the assessed value and market value are not always the same, especially in the current real estate market.

The sale of the lot is also contingent upon the county or Wildwood acquiring property at 3400 Pacific Ave. with Open Space funds. Last year, commissioners proposed turning that lot into a park, to include a synthetic ice rink.

Commissioners argued that there wasn’t enough traffic in the downtown to support high capacity parking, which was also why they have made acquiring the lot at 3400 Pacific Ave. part of the deal.

Rosenello said that if the land transaction is not carried through, the deal won’t go through, and the BID will get its money back.

The BID, as well as other groups like the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority, the Special Boardwalk Improvement District, and the current governing body, had originally supporting turning that property into a “Destination Station” with parking, as well as connections to the city’s public transportation- such as the tram car and Dolly the Trolley.

The BID allocated for $75,000 for debt service to acquire the parking lot in its budget earlier this year.

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