Why Is So Much of the Wildwood Boardwalk for Sale?
There seems to be a wide-spread belief that Five Mile Island – Wildwood, North and West Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest – was struck by Hurricane Sandy. Not true. Wildwood suffered virtually no storm damage, and Sandy had nothing to do with the marketing of these three Boardwalk properties.
It is axiomatic on the Wildwoods Boardwalk that properties between the two main Morey’s Piers are the most desirable, and these three properties (pictured in the gallery below) are on that coveted main stem. That fact alone, of course, is no guarantee of success for tenants. They have to know how to work the Boardwalk and be willing to put in the long, grueling hours that are demanded throughout the short summer seashore season. It’s not for everybody. Every season, Boardwalk amateurs, hopes high, open venues, only to take a salt water bath. It ain’t easy. Sometimes they stiff the landlord.
There are several other reasons Boardwalk property owners put up for sale signs. The Boardwalk Mall, long a landmark, lost two major tenants this year, and truth be told, the remaining tenants are a hodge-podge of tee-shirt shops and the rest of the stores that already line the Boardwalk outside. Despite the Weiland whale mural on the side of the building, the Boardwalk Mall is not the prime property it once was. But it will remain; it’s in good physical shape and the second floor, with it’s broad, graceful, curved ocean-view window will doubtless draw a new tenant, despite the constantly-rising rents.
Insurance, particularly flood insurance in the wake of Sandy, is another factor in Boardwalk real estate. It is expensive and not going to get any cheaper, and the tax rates in Wildwood proper are constantly rising due to a chronic budget shortfall of $2 million that the city is struggling to bridge.
The Strand block is perhaps the weakest of the three properties. At one time, the Strand movie house had block-long lines for every show along the cool art deco paving out front. Today, people, particularly the sought-after 18-35 demographic, don’t go to Wildwood to go to the movies. Physically, too, this block is faltering and any new owners will have to make major, expensive renovations. And money is still tight, so the Strand block is the least appealing of the three properties.
The 2914 Boardwalk site is the most appealing. The variety store on the corner is almost new and upscale for a Boardwalk store, and the three adjacent game stands are money-makers. The owner of the property is currently over-extended and the sale of this site could provide some needed cash flow. This property will certainly survive, and continue to thrive.
There have been whole blocks that have stood empty for an entire Boardwalk season, but that, too, passes, and the Wildwood Boardwalk works its questionable magic and new people take a shot. That will happen with these three properties, too, the good Lord willing and the ocean don’t rise. Unless, of course, the owners have put them up for sale just to test real estate waters, which is not an uncommon occurrence.
Below, a gallery with listings photos from LoopNet, a commercial real estate portal, of the properties for sale.
Journalist Bob Ingram — author of SUN SONGS: Wildwood Stories — co-wrote, co-produced and narrated two documentaries about Wildwood: Boardwalk: Greetings from Wildwood By-The-Sea, and Boardwalk II: Back to Wildwood.