Three Islands In Bay Sold At Auction For $260K

OCEAN CITY – Perhaps reflective of the economic times and the associated lack of discretionary dollars for most, three islands totaling about 30 acres smack dab in the middle of the Assawoman Bay behind Ocean City sold last week at auction for $260,000, providing the unknown buyer with a little slice of paradise for a fairly reasonable price.

Marshall Auctions last week auctioned the so-called South Hammocks, three partially wooded islands with a hunting lodge and beautiful sandy beaches, in the upper end of the Assawoman Bay a short boat ride from just about anywhere in the Ocean City area, for $260,000. Going into the sale, auctioneer Doug Marshall was hoping the attractive parcels would fetch as much as $400,000 on the high side to as low as about $250,000 on the low side, and the final bid came in just slightly higher than that. The most recent tax assessment of the property came in at just under $300,000.

West Ocean City business owner Gary Frick owned the islands for the last nine years or so, but the South Hammocks have been utilized as a getaway and waterfowl hunting retreat for decades. The upland portions of the largest of the three islands are wooded with pines and other native vegetation, with white sandy beaches around the perimeters, perfect for a quick stop-off during a boating excursion or for clamming and fishing. On the largest of the three islands, an ancient trailer had been converted over the years to a make-shift hunting lodge complete with a kitchen, bedroom and living room including a fireplace.

The auction took place last Saturday at Lighthouse Sound on the mainland nearby and attracted dozens of potential buyers including several notable old Ocean City and Worcester County families.

“The auction was held at Lighthouse Sound, which provided the perfect setting for the sale,” he said. “The prospective buyers could look out the windows and see the beautiful islands they were bidding on.”

In the end, the highest bid came from an undisclosed buyer from “northern Maryland,” according to Marshall, who said he was happy with the turnout and the bidding activity.

“It was a great auction,” he said.  “There were about 80 potential buyers out there including some prominent local buyers. It looked like a who’s who of Ocean City and Worcester County in there with all of the prominent old names represented.”

While generally pleased with the outcome, Marshall said the parcels definitely would have drawn a higher price if the economy were better. He suggested the islands would have drawn bids totaling maybe three times as much as last Saturday’s winning bid during a boon times of the local real estate market four or five years ago. However, Marshall said the buyer was happy with the sale price and the seller was content with the final bid.

“Surely, got themselves a beautiful piece of property,” he said. “I only wish the market was a little better because it could have drawn a little more. It was a good sale and worked out well for everybody. The buyer was happy and the seller was happy.”

For years, the three islands in the bay behind Ocean City have been utilized as part-time summer retreat and hunting lodge and that will not likely change. The property is zoned C-1 conservation district and it unlikely it could be developed as anything else given its location and ecological importance. Marshall said the new owners expressed no interest in utilizing it for anything more than its current use.

“They expressed a desire to keep it just as it is,” he said. “It’s a beautiful island and it is just perfect for its intended use, a perfect oasis and waterfowl hunting retreat.”