White's Building single bid too low

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The highest bidder wasn't high enough, so a historic downtown department store building filled with unfinished condominiums is headed to Uncle Sam's balance sheet.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. attempted to sell the White's Building, 936 Broad St., at a foreclosure auction Tuesday morning.

The minimum bid for the former J.B. White department store was $1.5 million. The FDIC "withdrew the ad" for sale after receiving only one bid of $800,000 from a Martinez businessman.

Without a buyer, there was no foreclosure on the loan, FDIC spokesman David Barr said. For now, the White's Building will remain another nonperforming loan on the books of the FDIC-seized Haven Trust Bank, which failed in December 2008.

The condo-office project is now headed for a national structured sale, packaged with 7,200 other nonperforming loans in the federal agency's possession.

"We transfer the loans into a limited liability corporation. And then we market an interest in that LLC. The FDIC retains part ownership," Mr. Barr explained. "Since the FDIC has an equity stake, it helps us realize any upside potential."

That sale is expected to end in mid-December, he said.

Whoever buys the majority stake would be responsible for working out the loans, Mr. Barr said, and that entity would then be responsible for either selling the White's Building or finishing off the 51-condo renovation project.

The transformation of the old store into condominiums and office space halted after Duluth, Ga.-based Haven Trust failed. The building's Atlanta-based developer had its construction loan through Haven Trust.

The FDIC took the building into receivership in May after Horizon Group Investments defaulted on the $5.7 million loan with the commercial space and one floor of condos completed.

With the FDIC's decision to place the White's Building loan into the sale, Tuesday's auction bidder won't have the chance to raise the price, Mr. Barr said.

The bidder was Gurjit Jalli, who owns Oncar Automotive, a car rental business, on Prince Drive in Martinez.

"The property was to be sold here," he said after the proceedings outside of the Augusta Municipal Building. "If they pulled it, it is their decision."

There were more than 25 people gathered to witness the auction, many of them tenants.

Among them was Evelyn Petrea, the first resident to move into a condo.

"If we can't get someone to make something out of it, then we may have to move out. We can't stay in a building that's been mothballed. I'm worried about it," Ms. Petrea said.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

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Emerydan
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Emerydan 11/04/09 - 06:04 am
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What a fine mess this turned

What a fine mess this turned out to be.

omnomnom
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omnomnom 11/04/09 - 06:10 am
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One day, perhaps in the

One day, perhaps in the not-too-far future, we'll see the TEE center up for grabs on the courthouse steps.

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 11/04/09 - 08:00 am
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One day, perhaps in the

One day, perhaps in the not-too-far future, AMERICA will be up for grabs on the courthouse steps....Thanks to the Democrats who have sold our future to the Chinese and have destroyed our manufacturing base which provides the tax income to pay the bills.

imdstuf
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imdstuf 11/04/09 - 01:21 pm
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No one wants to buy this

No one wants to buy this place, yet our leaders think our city is hot enough to hold big conventions. HAHAHAHAHA!

imdstuf
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imdstuf 11/04/09 - 01:22 pm
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Humble, the big debts started

Humble, the big debts started long ago and two of the biggest debtor presidents, Reagan and Bush II were Republicans. Clinton, a Democrat, tried to balance the budget.

imdstuf
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imdstuf 11/04/09 - 01:24 pm
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The manufacturing base was

The manufacturing base was destroyed by both parties for all going along with NAFTA, etc. For allowing foreigners to come in on VISAS easily, for deregulation which made it easy for big companies to move things off shore, even if just to get out of paying taxes here.

corgimom
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corgimom 11/04/09 - 06:10 pm
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Imdstuf, and don't forget the

Imdstuf, and don't forget the world-class tourist attractions. World-class, I tell you.

The Knave
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The Knave 11/04/09 - 09:00 pm
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humbleopinion --- you are

humbleopinion --- you are truly a part of the problem (i.e., lemming-like, uninformed American dupes) if you think politicians of any stripe are not complicit in selling the Republic down the river. This didn't start 10 months ago. You remind me of the folk that go to high school football games and cheer for "their" side, and boo the opposition. By the sophomoric booing of the Demon-rats and cheering the Republi-cons, you are playing right into the hands of the political hacks who have you under their spell. Wake up and think for yourself! Fact: The Shrub put more USA government debt into the hands of foreign creditors than ALL of his predecessors combined. The White building debacle is tragic. It is another example of the real estate developers thinking they can get away with any crazy scheme, and the bankers' willingness to loan money for purposes that make no sense. Regrettably, the people surrounding Obama (Geithner, Bernanke, et. al) are doing nothing to reign in the bankers -- who are a real threat to the economic health of the country.

the_source
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the_source 11/08/09 - 03:26 pm
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It's not the building. It's

It's not the building. It's Augusta's politics. During First Friday this past weekend, I was walking downtown and wandered into the White's Building. People were dancing in the streets, outdoor shops were doing business, the White's Building looks great so far. I see a city and building with lots of potential if not for your crazy politics. We could cash out the White's Building note and make money from it for the asking $1.5 million plus fund the remaining fixup costs but don't want to put our money with a bunch of "what ifs", all because you guys have a bunch of city "leaders" who place their own petty interests and vendettas above the overall good of the city. Pity.

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