The site of the former Pier 44 Restaurant in Babylon.

The site of the former Pier 44 Restaurant in Babylon. Credit: Google maps

Suffolk County will hold an online auction Oct. 12 to sell 66 plots of vacant land, residential properties and commercial properties, including the site of the former Pier 44 restaurant in Babylon.

Interested participants must register by Tuesday, Oct. 3 at suffolk.ny.realforeclose.com to be eligible to make a purchase.

The county’s goal in selling the properties, which span from Amityville to Shelter Island, is to return them to productive use and increase property tax collections.

The site of the former Pier 44 restaurant, which had served pasta, seafood and other entrees for more than 30 years before it closed in 2020, is one of the most expensive properties on the list.

The county will start the bidding at $250,000 for 444 Fire Island Ave., which includes the former restaurant's building and a back parking lot. A single-family home on Legacy Court in Huntington will also start at $250,000.

Minimum bids for plots of vacant land start as low as $100.

Since 2018, the county has sold 387 parcels through auctions, which brought in more than $45 million, or around $116,000 per parcel.

The county can take ownership of a residential property if an owner goes at least three years without paying taxes. For commercial properties, that period is one year.

After the county takes ownership, the previous owner has 2½ years to pay off delinquent taxes and redeem the property, said Tamir Young, the county’s director of real estate.

“We’re talking about surplus properties that the county doesn’t have other interest in and otherwise we would have duties to maintain that property, and we have potential liabilities,” Young said. “The county would prefer to have all properties in use whether it’s a residential or commercial use.”

The virtual auction will begin at 9:30 a.m. Buyers will submit their initial bids, which must meet a minimum price set by the county, and the highest among those will be selected to open the bidding. From there, they can increase their offers until a winner emerges.

This will mark the second time the county has used a virtual auction platform to sell properties following an auction held in December 2021.

“We find there is a greater number of people who can participate in the auction going online,” said Sarah Lansdale, commissioner of the county’s Department of Economic Development and Planning.

Young said that the online auction also draws more serious bidders because buyers must submit a deposit that is equal to 23% of the highest amount they plan to bid in advance.

“We think we’re attracting a group of participants that’s more ready for the auction,” Young said.

The county has published a list of the parcels online and many have certain restrictions on how they may be used. Some will be sold by quitclaim deed, a way to transfer a property without the county assuring the buyer its title to the land is good.

“We encourage the bidders to do their own diligence, speak with towns and look at things like zoning on their own,” Young said.

The county runs the auction through the vendor realauction.com, which doesn’t charge the county. Instead, winning bidders pay a $300 fee per transaction. There are additional fees and surcharges that increase as prices rise.

Realauction will hold a training session on how to use its software Friday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. To register, go to realauction.com/training.

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