OCEAN CITY — In closed session this week, the Ocean City Mayor and Council voted to begin the condemnation process for the World Gym property on the bayside at 67th Street in advance of the parcel being put up for auction.
During a closed session on Tuesday, the Mayor and Council voted to begin a process to condemn, and thereby acquire, the property on the south side of 67th Street on the bayside of Coastal Highway that has been home to a World Gym franchise. The property is set to be sold at auction as part of a substitute trustee’s sale on Friday.
Because Ocean City as a municipality is not allowed to participate in a public auction during a trustee sale, the Mayor and Council on Tuesday took a pre-emptive measure to begin the condemnation process for the property, which is essentially made up of two parcels, one of which hosts the World Gym operation. The other parcel contains a storage area. By initiating the condemnation process, the town is essentially exercising its right of first refusal for the property, which allows the town to acquire and bypass the public auction.
According to state department of assessment and taxation (SDAT) data, the property includes a 13,000-square-foot building built in 1972 on an 18,000-square-foot parcel. The property was most recently reassessed at just over $1.4 million.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained on Wednesday the town’s acquisition of the gym property through the condemnation process is part of a larger plan to piece together parcels in the same general area for a future expanded water treatment facility. Last year, the town acquired and ultimately demolished the old VFW facility for the same purpose.
“We’ve been discussing the consolidation and assembly of parcels in the area of 67th Street as far back as 2011,” he said. “The site will eventually be home to a new water treatment plant for the future of Ocean City. It will replace the plant at 44th Street that was built in 1966.”
Adkins said the existing water treatment plant at 44th Street had outgrown its useful life, necessitating the piecing together of a new site for a water treatment plant at 67th Street in the general vicinity of the expanding public works complex.
“It is a very limited, postage stamp-sized piece of property and has no room for expansion,” he said. “Similarly, we bought the old VFW property on 67th Street last year and we’re now pursuing the acquisition of the World Gym property.”
Adkins said by ordinance, the town has the right to bypass a public auction for the property through the condemnation process. While the council voted in closed session on Tuesday to begin the process, it will likely be introduced in ordinance form as soon as Monday.
Adkins said the World Gym property is just the latest link in the chain or parcels needed for the new water treatment plant and more property acquisitions could be pending.
“We have always had the right of first refusal if you look in the code book to purchase the Sandpiper Energy property on 67th Street that adjoins this property,” he said. “That is part of the plan in the coming months.”