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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Two big land deals at Berlin auction

(Nov. 5, 2015) More than 600 acres of land and several million dollars changed hands last Friday at a pair of auctions held at the Atlantic Hotel in downtown Berlin.
In one sale, the 384-acre former Beach Club Golf Course in Berlin sold for $1.3 million to an unidentified investor. Meanwhile, 245.1 acres of farmland on Route 818 near Route 113 sold for $1.25 million to Adham Abouassali, a developer from the Frederick area.
 The latter property includes four parcels and an estimated 191.3 tillable acres and is contiguous to the former golf course.
Abouassali said he heard about the sale through the website of the auctioneer, Atlantic Auctions Inc.
“I’ve always been attracted to land,” he said. “My hobby is gardening, but not farming, necessarily. It’s a big garden.”
He said was unfamiliar with the town prior to reading the auction listing, but became interested in the property after reading about the recent “Coolest Small Town” designation. Berlin’s proximity to the beach in Ocean City also didn’t hurt, he said.
“It’s a very cute small town,” he said. “The location of it is wonderful and really the sky is the limit as far as what you can do with it. It’s a huge endeavor if you want to develop it and at this time I am pondering over the picture of it.”
Abouassali said moving to the area was a possibility, adding that would not happen “in the short term.”
“It’s lovely to be part of a small town like this, and, of course, the close proximity to the water. That would be the eventual goal, yes, to move, but not right away,” he said.
He said he would like to hear what the town’s vision for the property is and that he would take a measured “walk before you run” approach toward development.
Opened in 1991, the former Beach Club Golf Course closed in October 2010. The property is zoned A-1, general agriculture.
Town Administrator Laura Allen said neither of the buyers had contacted the town as of press time.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, meanwhile, said the purchases represent the first significant land acquisitions since the turn of the century.
According to Williams, the 245.1-acre property, commonly called the Davis-Taylor Farms, was the subject of a proposed tech-sector development in the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century.
A successful referendum was held in 2000 to annex the property into the town. Then, less than a year later, Williams said, the development deal collapsed.
“Nationally, the tech bubble, for investors, had literally burst,” he said, adding that the ripple effect directly affected the proposed expansion in Berlin.
Williams said another investor attempted build a multiuse residential complex on the property in 2008, but the so-called “Great Recession” derailed that.
He said a large portion of the property is zoned R-1 residential and the remainder is zoned industrial.  
The former golf course, Williams said, is not annexed into Berlin.
“From most anybody’s point of view, both of those investments are significant,” Williams said, adding that “a wide range of things” could be developed on either property.
“I don’t think any of them are going to be industrial,” he said. “The Maryland Stadium Authority is doing a study about an area – that might be possible.
“Things that will bring the community uses and benefits that we don’t already have would be, I think, the best,” he added.
Both properties, Williams said, would likely become part of the conversation when the town starts holding formal discussions on future growth in Berlin “between now and next spring.”
“Certainly, this winter it is our expectation that we’ll begin the community conversation about longer-term growth,” Williams said. “We want to look at the longer view as to what should the town of Berlin be like in a generation.
“These two investments, at the level that they were, show that it’s just a matter of time before they inevitably are developed,” Williams continued. “Hopefully, between the town and the county continuing to work closely together, we can make sure it’s for the best possible use for not only people currently in town, but for our residents as we incrementally grow in the future.”