Berlin Farm ($1.25M), Beach Club Golf Course ($1.3M) Sold At Auction

Berlin Farm ($1.25M), Beach Club Golf Course ($1.3M) Sold At Auction

BERLIN – A foreclosure auction resulted in the sale of two well-known Berlin properties last week.

The large piece of land long known as the Davis-Taylor farm and the adjacent Beach Club Golf Course were both featured in a trustees’ sale hosted by Atlantic Auctions at the Atlantic Hotel Oct. 30. The farmland brought $1.25 million while the golf course brought $1.3 million. Both properties were purchased by investors from across the Bay Bridge.

“I have no plans yet,” said Adham Abouassali, the Frederick resident who purchased the farm. “I was interested in it because it’s incorporated with the town.”

Abouassali was the winning bidder on the 245-acre piece of farmland, which is made up of four smaller parcels. In all, the land was advertised to contain 160 acres zoned industrial and a remaining 85 acres zoned residential.

Though the auctioneer at the Atlantic Hotel Friday tried to start bidding for the property at $2 million, the first bid for the land was $500,000. Shortly thereafter Abouassali was congratulated on his $1.25 million purchase.

Abouassali, who says this is the first piece of property he’s bought in the area, does not have plans yet for his new acquisition.

“I just like land,” he said, adding that he’d only heard about the auction because he was on the Atlantic Auctions mailing list. He wasn’t even sure if he’d gotten a good deal on the property until he checked with a local real estate agent. “I understand it’s fair but not low.”

Abouassali also bid on the second property featured in the auction, the former Beach Club Golf Course, but wasn’t willing to spend $1.3 million on it.

“Golf courses I’m not that familiar with,” he said. “I know it’s a lot of work.”

Instead, an investor from the Washington D.C. was the winning bidder. Though he declined to give his name, he saw an ad for the auction in The Washington Post and was interested in the 384-acre property on Deer Park Road because of its proximity to Ocean City. He said he did not have plans for the former 27-hole golf course yet.

Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said he hoped both properties would be developed in ways that would complement the town.

“Based on our strategic planning sessions anything that brings more year-round recreational opportunities could at least be part of that mix,” he said.

Williams said the farmland, which was annexed into Berlin in 2000, was an ideal location for development because of its proximity to routes 50 and 113.

“Major roadways are the lifeblood of potential development,” he said.

Williams said the Davis-Taylor farm was annexed into the town during a time when a mixed-use development had been proposed for the site. A developer had plans to turn about 118 acres into a tech park.

“This was just about the time of the first technology bubble,” Williams said. “People were investing in the late 1990s in technology at an unprecedented scale. It became oversaturated and this tech park never got to square one.”

Nevertheless, the property was annexed into the town with that expectation. Though the project never materialized, Williams said he believes the proposal was worthwhile in that it resulted in annexation.

“It got people to have a serious discussion about what the town’s borders should be,” Williams said. “For most of my lifetime, people assumed Berlin should never cross Route 50. It wasn’t based on anything practical. It was just an imaginary line based on a highway.”

Over time the town has gradually grown and now the inclusion of the Davis-Taylor property into Berlin isn’t questioned.

“As a citizen, I’m glad there has been this period of delay,” Williams said, “because what people thought of community at the end of the 20th century and what they think now are two different things entirely.”

Though he believes the property is a benefit to the town, Williams said he doesn’t expect it to ever be developed as an industrial site.

“I don’t think anybody’s beating a drum to create an industrial zone right on the edge of town,” he said. “Certainly, we could see something that complements our community.”

Council member Lisa Hall said she believes true working class homes on either of the properties would benefit the town. She says potential homebuyers, particularly young families, are unable to find a home for less than $200,000 in Berlin.

Nevertheless, Hall said the town needed to be cautious about its rate of growth. She pointed out that there were more than 400 infill lots available in town already.

“Before we even consider anything else, we should finish what we started,” Hall said.

She said that because the farmland purchased by Abouassali had already been annexed by the town, it was only a matter of time until the owner of the Beach Club property sought annexation. She believes town officials need to carefully consider the impact any growth would have.

“We need to protect our small town charm,” she said. “There’s no price you can put on that.”