BARRINGTON PATCH - Schools, Developers Expected to Bid at Auction of Former Zion Bible Property

October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011 6:00am
Barrington Patch

The former Zion Bible College property on Primose Hill goes on the auction block Tuesday, Oct. 25, at noon with up to a dozen bidders anticipated by the auctioneer.

"I think we'll have low double digits," said Justin Manning of JJ Manning Auctioneers of Cape Cod.

Among the potential bidders are several schools -- from New England and internationally, developers, investors and opportunists, Manning said. One group also contacted the auctioneer about using it as a single-family home.

"It's been shown and seen by more than 100 people at the two tours, making up approximately 30 groups," he said.

Groups ranged in size from two to five, Manning said.

"It's been advertised in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe," said Bradford Martin, attorney for Zion Bible, which operates now out of Haverhill, Mass.

"I believe there will be bidders there," he said. "I expect an active auction. I think it will sell. I would be shocked, in fact, if it didn't sell based on the level of interest."

Half a dozen different schools, in particular, including a prep school, a religious school and a school that serves students with special needs, looked at the 39.5-acre campus, Manning said.

"Some came with architects and contractors," he said.

The value of the property is apparent, Manning said. A buyer also has the ability to purchase and develop part of it and maybe sell off part of it.

The single-family group looking at the property was interested primarily in Belton Court, he said.

"They said you can't replicate this building," he said. "It would cost way too much -- $10 to $12 million."

The reserve bid starting price remains at $2 million, even with the college reportedly having a $4.1 mortgage to pay off.

Manning reiterated that the property will sell "as is" with the buyer agreeing to sign a document that shows the potential environmental issues associated with underground fuel storage tanks.

A buyer will need 10 percent down and have 45 days to close on the property, Martin said.

"There will be no long drawn-out due diligence," the attorney added.

Those terms eliminated several potential buyers, Martin said, including the town of Barrington, which made another offer on the property recently.

"They asked us what price we would need to sell the property before the auction," he said.

The town's offer "was far less than what we told them, significantly lower," Martin said. "They couldn't meet the terms either. Others couldn't meet the terms as well."

Neither Martin nor Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. would reval the town's second offer. It backed out of a $5.2 million purchase-and-sale agreement last spring.

All potential buyers must show up with a $100,000 check to bid, Martin said.

The actual location of the auction on the campus will depend on the weather, said Manning. If it's sunny and pleasant, it will take place on the steps facing the courtyard of Belton Court. If it rains, the auction will move inside Belton Court.