Jersey Shore

Ocean City Amusement Pier, Owned by Mayor, in Jeopardy of Sheriff's Auction

Gillian's Wonderland Pier in the Jersey Shore town has been owned by the mayor's family for nearly a century, but it recently was ordered up for auction by a court over millions in debt.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A nearly century-old boardwalk amusement pier along the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey, was ordered put up for auction on Jan. 21 because the owner, who is also the resort city's mayor, has defaulted on $8 million in loans.

But Mayor Jay Gillian, who along with his wife owns Gillian's Wonderland Pier, said in a statement to NBC10 that he has secured new financing and that the property will not go up for auction by the Cape May County sheriff.

"I want to reassure our loyal guests that Wonderland Pier will be open for business, as usual, for the 2021 season," Gillian said in a statement.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic that lasted all of the 2020 vacation season at the Jersey Shore hit the pier hard.

"Like many business across the nation, Gillian's Wonderland Pier was deeply affected by the COVID-19 shutdown and restrictions," the statement said. "But we have secured financing, and we look forward to another WONDERful summer in America's Greatest Family Resort."

Yet much of the debt, according to court records, was accrued prior to the pandemic.

Court records in state Superior Court's Office of Foreclosure show that the Gillians owe First Priority Bank about $8 million in mortgage debt. Judge Michael J. Blee ordered Jan. 21 that the property be put up for auction in order to satisfy the debt.

An attorney for the bank had no comment.

Gillian did not provide details to NBC10 about the new financing.

The amusement pier has been in operation and run by the Gillian family since 1929.

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