Looking for the back story in the Smith’s auction “bust.”

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Scuttlebutt has long held that the building(s) is in poor condition, and those responsible decades ago for painting the exterior walls black have yet to be captured and brought to justice, but it’s still a surprise to learn …

Smith’s auction a bust in New Albany; Former furniture store still on the market, by Eric Scott Campbell (News and Tribune).

When auctioneer Lincoln Crum opened bidding at $300,000, no one bit. He gradually dropped the amount by $25,000 at a time, but no one flinched, and it quickly became apparent that the auction might be in vain.

“Maybe everybody’s here just to watch,” Crum wondered aloud when he dropped the opening bid to $125,000.

Once no one showed interest in $75,000 as an opening bid, that was that.

What’s the untold story?

A source suggests that the seller in this instance may have intended the auction as a sort of helpful calibration device to winnow the field of potential purchasers and to help establish the building’s true worth. Barring the unexpected arrival of an extremely wealthy rube with a check for $400,000 in his pocket, the result of the non-auction would be the identification of serious investors, a collective gathering of information, and many further negotiations to follow.

Emphatically, this is not to insinuate that the auction was somehow staged or rigged. However, it is to concede that since most readers have never gone about selling a building appraised at half a million dollars, certain aspects of the process are sure to remain elusive. Readers, any helpful thoughts on the matter are appreciated, either posted below or privately mailed.

It remains that another furniture and appliance store is not needed at the Smith’s location*, but the expense of rehabbing the buildings into street level retail with apartments and offices upstairs stands to be considerable. We believe that the “busted” auction is a mere prelude to the building’s eventual purchase for a price below the Louisville metro norm. The question is, what will be done with it, and when?

* The needs of business centers – smaller blocks, more through street connections, ancillary facilities such as restaurants, easier connections to transit, sidewalks and bikeways, and higher landscape standards – are much different from those of warehousing and industrial areas.

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