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Highly visible Ocean City site up for auction

Located at the foot of the Route 50 Bridge, the land housing Geo. Bert Cropper Inc.’s defunct concrete plant has been among the first things millions of visitors first see as they enter Ocean City.

That view might soon be changed.

Known as Cropper’s Landing, the relatively undeveloped piece of land has been on the market for years, with an occasional nibble of interest from developers attracted by the uniqueness of the site. After failing to sell, the property is now slated for an onsite auction April 29.

The 3.8-acre bayfront site has been the subject of long-range development plans for more than a decade, given its size and highly visible location. The site also has the distinction of being the only industrially zoned piece of land in Ocean City. The resort’s zoning laws, though, allow for the site to be developed for other uses, including residential and commercial.

Since 2000, concepts for the site have run the gamut from a regional aquarium to an IMAX theater to a mixed-use development. Cropper’s Landing currently has an approved site plan allowing for 54 townhomes and 40 condominiums.

“It really does have great potential for a bayside district — it could have anything from condos and townhouses to restaurants or a hotel,” said Glenn Irwin, executive director of the Ocean City Development Corp. “It’s one of the largest and highest valued properties in town. It should be interesting to see what happens.

The nonprofit Ocean City Development Corp. was founded in 2000 to spur redevelopment in downtown Ocean City — defined as the area running south from 4th Street to the Inlet. Irwin said the group has supported the redevelopment of Cropper’s Landing and has come out in favor of the current plan.

According to state tax records, Cropper’s Landing has an assessed value of $14.6 million. The property had previously been listed for sale for $13.7 million. A deposit of $400,000 is required of any potential bidders.

The auction is being handled Atlantic Auctions Inc., of Bel Air for the estate of George Bert Cropper.

Cropper, who died in 2005 at age 96, started the concrete company in the late 1940s. The concrete plant was ideally located for the hotel and condo booms that seized the town over the years.

Activity at the plant eventually wound down over the past 10 years, and production was moved off the island to Bishopville.