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.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

339 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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