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THE DAILY ITEM - Ex-Item building sells for $800,000

July 16, 2015

LYNN - History went on the auction block at 11:26 a.m. Wednesday, and by 11:32 p.m., a Winchester-based real estate development firm bought the former Item building on Exchange Street for $800,000.

"We don't necessarily have a plan now, but we are leaning to condominiums or maybe fixing it up as offices," said US1 Ventures Chief Executive Officer Christine Diarbakerly.

Diarbakerly's brother, Kevin, set the pace for six minutes of bidding overseen by auctioneer Justin Manning. Beginning with a $200,000 bid, interest in the five-story building assessed at just over $1 million by the city climbed through $500,000 before topping out at $800,000.

The building's purchase closing is scheduled for Aug. 28. Under auction rules, US1 will be required to add a $80,000 buyer's premium to its bid amount.

Wednesday's auction comes on the heels of the purchase of The Daily Item newspaper by Essex Media Group last October. The newspaper itself was not included in the purchase, as its operations moved to 110 Munroe St. in March.

Built in 1900 by owner Peter H. Gamage's great-grandfather and great-uncle, the building for years included Item operations, tenants' offices and a top-floor printing firm. Gamage said Wednesday he hopes the property's new owners will assemble "a good plan" for the Item building's future use.

"I think it is terrific someone was interested in our building," he said.

Christine Diarbakerly said she attended the auction with her brother and father, John, without having previously visited Lynn and having never seen the Item building. She said her family's companion business, US1 Petroleum, buys retail service stations at auction and, in the case of a former Brighton gas station, razed the structure for a 118-apartment project.

"We show up where there is a good opportunity," Diarbakerly said.

About 50 people attended Wednesday's auction in the Item's former first-floor business office. Charlie Patsios, owner of former General Electric land slated for development, Century 21 Hughes' David Hughes and real estate owner John Gilberg were in attendance, with Gilberg stressing the building's value as a building block in downtown's resurgence.

"I'd love to see residential here," he said.

Prior to the start of bidding, Manning described the sale as an "absolute auction" intended to provide seller and the prospective buyer with a "very clean, very straightforward" sales process.

"It's one of the prettier buildings in the city. What we are hearing is the city would like to see something done with this. Something fantastic is going to be done with this property," Manning said.