The Seafirst Building in downtown Aberdeen was auctioned for a high bid of $90,000 Wednesday, attracting a last-minute flurry of bidding as the deadline was extended repeatedly in the online auction.
The building, at101 E. Market, was auctioned off in late May for a high bid of $150,000, but the sale fell through. The building’s major tenant is the Bank of America.
The auction started at 9 a.m. on Monday and was supposed to end at 10:48 a.m. Wednesday. “Going once, going twice” appeared many times before the final bid came in around 11:36 a.m. and the word “SOLD!!!” appeared on computer screens monitoring the sale on auction.com. The winning bidder was not made public.
The starting bid was $1,000 and the bid increment dropped during the auction, from $2,500 to $1,000 by Wednesday morning. That sparked action and eight minutes before the announced deadline, the reserve amount of $5,000 was met and bidding started at $1,000.
Bidding heated up and stood at $50,000 at 11:23 a.m., $60,000 at 11:27 a.m., and by 11:30 a.m. was $81,000. The final bid came in shortly after that, at $90,000.
The auction was for the building only. The land is owned separately. When the May auction sale fell through, the building reverted to ownership by Gramercy Property Trust Inc. which pays rent to the trust that owns the land.
David Bielski manages the trust with his wife Sandra. Gramercy pays more than $125,000 in rent per year to the trust, which is an endowed care fund for the Aberdeen Cemetery Association Inc. The trust has a 50-year ground lease that extends through June 30, 2022.
A commercial ground lease is usually a long-term lease of land in which tenants are responsible for paying for improvements. It is a way to obtain access to valuable land, but not necessarily optimal from a tenant’s standpoint.
Whoever closes the sale will inherit the ground lease terms. The property description on auction.com mentions “ground lease interest” and lists the building as 35,864 square feet and about 60 percent occupied.
The Seafirst Building was built in the early 1970s and was once one of Aberdeen’s premier rental spaces. Several tenants have left in recent years.
The building is due to be re-valued this year by the Grays Harbor County Assessor’s office. The last valuation, from 2009, listed it as worth $2.82 million and the land value as “$0.” Bielski estimates the land is worth between $350,000 and $400,000. The assessor describes the condition of the building as “average.”
Property taxes on the building currently total $37,904.11 per year.
Email messages left for agent Ned Schooler of Marcus & Millichap, the contact agent for the auction, were not returned. Jon Murchison, senior director for corporate communications for Auction.com, also did not reply by deadline.