OCEAN CITY — The historic George B. Cropper Concrete Company property along the bay at North 1st Street, at the foot of the Route 50 bridge, was sold at auction last week for $4.1 million to a prominent West Ocean City development family.
Around 11 a.m. last Friday, a large crowd, including a virtual who’s who among area developers, builders, bankers and investors, gathered at the historic Cropper Concrete Company property for an advertised auction hosted by Atlantic Auctions and authorized by the estate of George B. Cropper. Atlantic Auctions Vice President and General Manager Bill Hudson told the potential bidders the property was zoned for a variety of uses and had approved plans from the town of Ocean City for a mixed use development including 54 townhouses and 40 condominiums. Hudson also extolled the physical virtues of the 3.8-acre bayfront parcel.
“Today, I see a great opportunity for redevelopment with this property, including townhouses, hotels, motels and condos,” he said. “I challenge anyone here today to find a more prime piece of real estate in Ocean City.”
Auctioneer Ray Nichols started the bidding at $20 million and quickly started working his way back as no bids were immediately offered. After a pause, Nichols started the bidding on the lower end of the spectrum and the first bid came in at $2 million from the Gudelsky family, who several years ago developed much of the waterfront in West Ocean City from the Ocean City Fishing Center to the Martha’s Landing community to Sunset Marina.
After the initial bid, the auction was halted for a brief time as several in attendance, including the auctioneers and the prospective bidders, made phone calls. After a short break and a private conference, the Gudelskys countered with a bid of $4.1 million, which turned out to be the only bid on the property as the auction closed with little fanfare.
Rolfe Gudelsky said this week he and his uncle John Gudelsky went to the auction largely out of curiosity, but when the bidding started low and no potential buyers stepped up, they decided to make an offer on the historic bayfront parcel.
“We didn’t really go over there with the intention of aggressively bidding on the property,” he said. “We just assumed it would go for much more than what we ended up getting it for, but when the opportunity presented itself, we decided to make an offer. It just worked out for us. It’s a beautiful piece of property.”
The iconic Cropper Concrete plant, which generated much of the concrete that aided building in the resort over the last century, is clearly visible to residents and visitors entering the resort for decades. It has been approved by the town for a mixed-use residential and commercial development, although the new buyers are obviously not beholden to the approved plans.
The property is unique in that its zoning allows for a variety of uses, including its existing industrial use, although its potential is clearly in a residential or commercial use. Gudelsky said this week the family has no immediate plans for its redevelopment.
“At this time, we don’t have any plans for its immediate future,” he said. “We’re just going to take our time and explore some options. In the meantime, we’re going to do some work to clean up the site. We have every intention of making the property part of an attractive entry into Ocean City in the short term, although it’s been like it is for such a long, long time.”