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Greencastle LoBill foods up for auction

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The former Lo Bill Foods building on Indianapolis Road will hit the auction block next month, nearly a year after corporate parent Marsh closed the store down.

The announcement of the Nov. 15 sale comes in spite of efforts from the city of Greencastle to convince the troubled supermarket chain to donate the 52,000-square-foot building or at least sell it at a reduced price, said Mayor Nancy Michael.

The city has no intention of buying the property at this point, she added.

With an assessed value of just shy of $2 million and two attached buildings on four and a quarter acres, the site is one of the largest commercial structures in the city.

Officials, however, are optimistic that the property will be bought up and redeveloped in a timely manner.

"I think the building has great potential to sell," said City Planner Shannon Norman. "What someone will do with it, I have no idea."

The Greencastle Lo Bill, 1033 Indianapolis Road, has been on the market since its closing in November 2006. Marsh officials have had inquiries, though no buyers, the BannerGraphic reported in February.

The company is pushing the auction of the building here in town and 26 other properties in Indiana and Ohio in an effort to raise money for its current campaign to renovate existing stores, said John Haney, the general manager of Higgenbotham Auctioneers. Marsh hired Florida-based Higgenbotham to sell the shuttered stores.

Marsh spokeswoman Connie Gardner declined to comment for this story.

There is not minimum bid for property, though Marsh has to approve the final bid before it will be sold, Haney said.

Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory said in all likelihood, a commercial developer will buy the building and try to lease it out.

One advantage that the Lo Bill property has is the attached 20,000-square-foot strip mall, Dory said. A small call center had previously expressed some interest in leasing part of that facility, though it never panned out, he added.

Regardless, if a company takes up residence at Lo Bill, the property will be more likely to be kept clean, since active commercial tenants will probably have less tolerance for the groups of teenagers who congregate in the parking lot in the evening, Norman said.

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