BERLIN — The future of a beleaguered cornerstone commercial property along a key gateway entrance to Berlin remains in doubt this week after a foreclosure auction was cancelled due to a handful of considerably low bids.
The roughly one-acre tract on the corner of Main Street and Old Ocean City Blvd. was set to be auctioned at foreclosure at 1 p.m. on Monday by Allen and Marshall Auctioneers. A handful of potential bidders gathered on the property shortly before 1 p.m. and auctioneer Doug Marshall opened the bidding at $200,000 shortly thereafter.
After getting no takers at $200,000, Marshall then began backtracking to a lower bid amount. One prospective buyer offered $11,000 and another bid as much as $15,000, but when neither budged on going any higher, the auction was paused. After conferring with the bank representatives who own the foreclosed property, Marshall warned if the bidders didn’t go any higher, the auction would be halted.
A few minutes later, when nobody raised their bids or showed any willingness to take on the beleaguered property’s inherent debt in the form of back taxes and fees owed to the town of Berlin and presumably Worcester County, the auction was cancelled.
The property, on the corner of Main Street and Old Ocean City Blvd. across from Cheers, was most recently home to the Neon Moon Grill restaurant. It was perhaps its most successful when it was the former Bowden’s family restaurant.
Several years ago, the new property owner attempted to gain the town’s approval for a new restaurant on the site, but plans were stalled when the property owner, the proposed tenant and the town reached an impasse over design elements on what is considered a gateway property to Berlin.
The property was most recently assessed at $300,000 in July. It was sold to the current owner for $850,000 in April 2006 and later went into foreclosure, prompting the auction attempt on Monday. Prior to that, it sold for $525,000 in June 2005. In June 2012, the last vestiges of the old Neon Moon Grill were demolished after becoming a blight on one of the main entrances to Berlin’s downtown area. The property is currently completely cleared.
With the cancellation of the auction on Monday due to relative disinterest, the property’s future remains in question.