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Auction of Cape building closes; decision now up to GSA

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Federal Building in Cape Girardeau
(Fred Lynch)
The online bidding war for Cape Girardeau's former federal building came to an end Sunday with a top offer of $625,000, but at least one county official said he isn't so sure this is the last word.

The General Services Administration, which oversees the sale of all federally owned property, has 60 days to consider the bid, which was considerably lower than the $900,000 asking price for the 44-year-old, two-story building at 339 Broadway.

"We'll evaluate the offer and make a decision from there," GSA spokeswoman Angela Brees said Sunday. "In light of the current economic climate, there are many things to consider."

There were four bidders, but two were involved in the daily offers that grew by $20,000 apiece since Monday. The last bid was made Saturday, and when no new bid was made Sunday, the auction ended.

The GSA does not identify bidders until after the sale has closed, though the bidders are free to do so, Brees said.

The only publicly known interested party is the Cape Girardeau County Commission, which has been considering the building as part of a plan to relocate some county offices from the antebellum Common Pleas Courthouse.

In a closed-session meeting, the commission authorized Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy to move forward with buying the building within a certain price range. The commission has not said whether it is one of the bidders in the online auction.

Tracy and Commissioner Paul Koeper did not return phone calls seeking comment Sunday afternoon, but Commissioner Jay Purcell said he had reason to believe that the $625,000 bid would not be accepted by the GSA.

"I don't believe they will accept that bid," Purcell said. "I can't say why I think that right now, but it will be very clear to all the citizens later."

The commission made several "solid offers" before the auction that the GSA rejected, Purcell said. When Purcell was asked if his comments Sunday were an indicator that the commission's bids were higher than $625,000, he declined to say.

"I don't think it would be appropriate to comment about that right now," Purcell. "I hate to talk in circles, but the public will know very soon."

Purcell did say GSA representatives, in rejecting the county's offers, said the auction would reveal the true market value of the building.

"I'm anxious to see if they hold true to their word," Purcell said. "They were very sure this auction would benefit them. I'm anxious to see how they handle this top bid."

The auction had been going on since May at the GSA website. The offerings were initially meager, but the amounts grew in recent weeks as two of the four anonymous bidders upped the ante with last-minute bids to extend the auction in 24-hour increments.

Cape Girardeau city officials had been interested in a joint venture with the county as a possible replacement for its cramped city hall, but the sides couldn't come to terms for sharing space.

The former federal building is zoned for commercial use and served as the federal courthouse until it was replaced in 2008 by the Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse.



Pertinent address:

339 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

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Correct me if I'm wrong. Does the county commission have the right to use their own discretion in whether or not they "allow" taxpayers the luxury of knowing where the monies are being spent? Refusing to confirm or deny that they are bidding with county tax dollars seems somewhat conspicuous to me. I'm surprised more questions haven't been raised about this. What would you do if your financial advisor in charge of your retirement wouldn't "confirm or deny" what is happening with your money?

-- Posted by Goodwin on Sun, Aug 14, 2011, at 9:36 PM

I agree with Goodwin. Let's be above board, streight forward and up front when they are spending $650,000.00 of the taxpayers money. Of course there is the chance that someone else was bidding on the property other than the County Commission. If it was in fact the County Commission then SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!! No secrets with this kind of money for sure..... nuff said

-- Posted by Next Candidate for Mayor on Sun, Aug 14, 2011, at 10:10 PM

As a taxpayer why would you want the county to confirm if they were bidding? I would rather some business decisions be kept behind closed doors until the appropriate time. Businesses that keep everything out in the open don't last. This is why you elect people. To act on your behalf.

-- Posted by SEMissouri70 on Sun, Aug 14, 2011, at 10:36 PM

We need a charter form of county government so that a larger body of commissioners would make a decision of this import. The three amigos are as obsolete as the common pleas courthouse.

-- Posted by rodgerdodger on Mon, Aug 15, 2011, at 1:37 AM

You don't need a charter form of government we are to small yet.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Mon, Aug 15, 2011, at 3:34 PM

As said by someone who has something to gain by keeping the status quo......

-- Posted by rodgerdodger on Tue, Aug 16, 2011, at 12:39 AM

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Map of pertinent addresses