City Leases Old Car Lot for Public Parking

first_imgThe land surrounding an old Chevrolet car dealership building is being eyed by the city. By Donald WittkowskiIt’s not the blockbuster $9 million deal that Ocean City has been hoping to make for a major piece of property owned by local businessmen and brothers Harry and Jerry Klause.Instead, City Council approved a $9,000 agreement Thursday night with Klause Enterprises to lease the land, once the site of a now-closed car dealership, for public parking over the summer.Encompassing nearly an entire block, the property on Simpson and Haven avenues, between 16th and 17th streets, will be used by the city through Sept. 9 for free public parking.City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said the site will help provide parking for the adjacent Ocean City Community Center, which houses the library and the aquatic and fitness center, and the Palmer Field recreation complex.“We need parking for all kinds of things,” McCrosson explained of the heavy demand for parking during the busy summer tourism season.Visitors at the Ocean City Community Center, seen in the background to the right, will be able to use the adjacent Klause Enterprises property for parking.McCrosson said the Klause brothers have been “very generous” in allowing the city to use their property for public parking.“It’s a pretty reasonable rental,” she said of the $9,000 lease.The city attempted to buy the same property last year from Klause Enterprises for $9 million, but the deal fell through when the community group Fairness In Taxes circulated a petition drive for a voter referendum to block the purchase.Mayor Jay Gillian recently announced his intention to try to buy the property again. He has ordered a new set of property appraisals as the first step in possible negotiations with the Klause brothers.“We would hope to negotiate the purchase,” McCrosson said.City Council approves a $9,000 parking lease with Klause Enterprises at the same time the city is hoping to negotiate a deal to buy the land.In the meantime, Klause Enterprises has secured preliminary approval from the Ocean City Planning Board to develop the property for 21 single-family homes.The site was formerly occupied by a now-closed Chevrolet dealership. The old building that once served as the dealership’s showroom has a sign in the front window that says the housing project is “coming soon.”The planning board’s preliminary approval is the first step in redeveloping the site. Klause Enterprises would have to secure the board’s final approval before construction could begin on the project.City officials, in their attempts to buy the property, want to preserve the land as public space to protect it from densely packed housing construction that would add to the town’s overdevelopment.“The city’s position is pretty simple: The mayor and Council don’t want to see the property developed with more housing,” city spokesman Doug Bergen said in earlier comments.But for the summer, at least, the property will serve as a public parking lot.An architectural rendering depicts the housing project that Klause Enterprises has proposed on the property.last_img

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