On Monday, April 22 the H.A. Hagg school building in Clarkfield was sold at auction on eBay for a price of $70,411.11 to an unknown bidder.
Concerned Clarkfield official’s and residents now wait with baited breath for the 91-year-old building’s most recent purchaser, and ultimately the building’s fate, to be revealed.
The building’s seller, George Duncan, a property investor from Meadville Missouri, bought the property from the Yellow Medicine East School District on Aug. 1, 2012 for $6,100. This past fall Duncan spent roughly $10,000 to improve the heating system in the west end of the building and leased that portion to Yellow Medicine East for $15,000/yr. for use of the building’s gymnasium and locker room space as Jr. High athletics practices and games were held at the site.
According to Clarkfield Economic Development Authority Director Gene Wenstrom, who spoke with Duncan as recently as Monday, Duncan is refusing to reveal the identity of the building’s purchaser, or provide a sale price, until a deal is finalized. “He just said that he had an offer. He didn’t say an amount. He did say that this offer came with earnest money down,” said Wenstrom.
In eBay sale records the winning bid for the school is listed as $70,411.11. In the building’s listing it states that a non-refundable good-faith deposit of $4,000 be made at the time of purchase. During the auction that closed on Apr. 22, 38 bids were cast by 10 different bidders. The winning bidder entered bidding at $2,500 and placed 14 bids.
eBay protects identifying information for buyers and sellers, but a look at the winning bidders bid history over the past 30 days, shows that the building’s purchaser bid on 25 items; mostly jewelry, loose gemstone, and a vehicle categorized as a Jaguar.
“That information worries me,” said Wenstrom. “Our biggest fear is that the building will be sold to someone who’ll just gut it and leave it.”
From the building’s sale listing on eBay: “Selling with no reserve to the highest bidder, is this magnificent two- story, brick school building located on approx. 3.5 all-level acres , with ample paved parking on the north side of the building. The building was formerly the H.A. Hagg Elementary School and consists of over 144,000 sq. ft. including 2 gyms, kitchen w/ stainless steel dishwasher, multiple classrooms, rec room, offices and bathrooms.”
In that same listing, presumably Duncan, writes: “I have talked to the local Charter School and they would love to move into the building. They have out grown their current location, and can't expand. With minimal work (mostly cleaning) and a few fixes here and there and having the fire [sic] Marshall to [sic] do a inspection for code, it's ready to go. I have researched this prospect, and to the best of my knowledge, you would be able to rent it to the Charter School for approximately $100,000 a year. Remember this building is 144,000 sq.ft. so they only need the west end which is around 41,350 sq. ft., and that's counting the big gym. And also co-leasing with the [YME] school would add another $15,000.”
Page 2 of 2 - That statement caused a stir for Clarkfield Area Charter School Lead Teacher Kathy Koetter who responded saying, “I’ve never said we would be willing to move there. We’ve investigated that before, but there’s been little discussion about it with the building’s current owner. The last time I talked to him was over a month ago and he asked about the chances of us moving over there. I told him from my understanding the building was a long ways away from anyone moving into it and though we’ll not rule out any options, we’re happy where we are at.”
According to the listing, closing must occur within 30 days from the end of the auction; meaning the school’s new owner should be revealed by the middle of next week (May 22).
To read the full sale listing for the H.A. Hagg school building go to www.granitefallsnews.com