GSA sets deadline for online auction for former Cape federal building

Thursday, July 21, 2011
The former Federal Building in Cape Girardeau (Fred Lynch)

Twelve days and counting. The U.S. General Services Administration has put a tentative close date of Aug. 2 on its online auction to sell the former federal building in Cape Girardeau.

The top bid listed at gsa.gov -- one of only two submitted to date -- stood at $151,601 early Wednesday afternoon, a figure well below the GSA's suggested opening bid of $750,000.

While the Cape Girardeau County Commission is considering consolidating the county's two courthouses into one new courthouse, Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said they're still interested in buying the former federal building.

"Short term, it doesn't mean we're less interested, necessarily," Tracy said Wednesday. "It's an option we explored in the past. Until it's sold, it's still an option."

The commission is still having discussions, Tracy said, about purchasing the 44-year-old, two-story Broadway building that could serve as a county courthouse if -- or until -- commissioners decide to build a new courthouse. Tracy again declined to say whether the county has bid on the building that was replaced in 2008 by the new Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse. The GSA does not make public the names of the bidders, only the amounts.

Cape Girardeau city officials had been interested in a joint venture with the county, but the sides couldn't come to terms for sharing space. City manager Scott Meyer said Wednesday the city could still get together with the county if it buys the building to see if they could come to an agreement. The city has also let the county know that if the county does buy the old federal courthouse and then moves into a new building, the city would like right of first refusal to buy it to convert it into a new city hall.

"We left it in the hands of the county," Meyer said. "They thought they would remain interested. If they purchased it, it would be by themselves. Naturally, if the county proceeds with it, then afterward we would be willing to sit down with them and see."

Meyer said the city has not bid on the building and has agreed not to compete with the county to buy it.

GSA spokeswoman Angela Brees said the auction could be extended in 24-hour increments. For example, if a bid comes in on the closing date, the auction would remain open for another day. That would continue for as long as bids keep coming in. No bids have been made since early June.

If no more bids come in, the GSA's property disposal team would convene to figure out what should happen next. The team could decide to accept the offer of the highest bidder or try to sell it again.

The county is considering building a new courthouse to consolidate its current two courthouses in Jackson and Cape Girardeau into one. On July 1, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill that revised statutes that required the county to hold court and maintain circuit clerk and probate division offices in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

Tracy said that having the deadline in place now didn't worry him.

"That's the point of having an auction. They eventually close," he said. "But I really don't know how it's all going to work out. We'll see."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

339 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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