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Shores parcel to be auctioned Saturday


It’s been the topic of protestations, debate and even some haggling, but a 5.2-acre oceanside parcel in the Shores will finally (hopefully) be sold by high noon on Saturday.

Former County Commissioner Wesley Davis’ company, Indian River Auctions and Appraisals, says final preparations are underway for the 11 a.m. auction to be held on-site at the parcel across from the Pebble Bay subdivision.

Whether the property fetches the $7.7 million or less, or fails to sell at all, the event itself will surely be a curiosity – both to those who want it sold and placed on the tax rolls, and to those who wanted it turned into a park.

The Town tidied up the property and a platform was briefly erected so buyers could see what the view would be from a second-story unit or bedroom. “The platform was there, but it’s down now. We took it down after a complaint from a neighbor,” Davis said. “But you can go to the corner of the property and see the view.”

Davis said he’s sent out nearly 40 due diligence packets on the auction, and that he’s been fielding questions from local and out-of-town developers, and had some international inquiries, one from as far as the United Arab Emirates.

”We’ve been getting a good response. You never have enough, as an auctioneer, you always wish you had more,” Davis said, adding that the auction has also captured the attention of local real estate brokers interested in bringing buyers.

“Most of the questions we’ve been fielding have been about the auction process and about the land development regulations and the zoning and what can be done with the property,” Davis said.

The Town agreed to split the 5.2-acre parcel into three estate-size lots running from the dune to A1A and to auction those off first, then to offer up the parcel as a whole for development, with the top bid determining the highest and best use of the property.

Looking to appeal both to developers and to the high-end residential market, Indian River Auctions has marketed the property not only locally, but in the Wall Street Journal and in a South Florida Spanish-language publication.

“With the help and guidance of the Indian River Shores Town Council and Town staff, we have been able to make sure that notice of the sale and this once in a lifetime opportunity is known far and wide,” said Rick Baker, Davis’ long-time partner in the auction business.

“Our job and the primary direction we have from the Council is to ensure that the taxpayers of the Town of Indian River Shores get the maximum value for the Town.  However, someone is going to get the opportunity of a lifetime to buy this unique property in one of the most desirable places to live in Florida.” Baker said.

Hopes had been high that three individuals might buy the estate lots, minimizing the density of development, but that seems unlikely now. “We’ve had a little interest in the estate lots, but the county’s decision to allow only one dune crossing put a damper on that. If somebody’s going to do the estate-sized lot, they’re going to want their own dune crossing,” Davis said.

Negotiations between the Shores and the Indian River County Commission turned contentious last month when the county refused to let the Shores trim back the seagrapes to show off the view a bit, and only allowed one of the three requested dune crossings.

“I felt for Mayor Barefoot in that process,” said Davis, who once chaired the County Commission. “I know I would have treated him much differently, better than that.”

Auction staff will be on-hand at 10 a.m. to register bidders, with the auction beginning at 11 a.m., rain or shine, under a tent with seating provided.

The Shores Town Council is set to meet at 8 a.m. Monday to review the results of the auction.

Then the county commission will meet on Tuesday to review the winning bid, as the county retains first right of refusal on the property. The Town obtained the parcel in the 1990s from the county in a land swap, and the parcel abuts the county’s Tracking Station Beach Park, a former military facility deeded to the county by the federal government decades ago.