By Ryan Cornell
STRASBURG -- Lasting all of 2 minutes and 46 seconds, an auction of the Strasburg Emporium antique mall on Thursday afternoon failed to attract any buyers.
Tim Jennings of Virginia Beach-based Tranzon Fox served as auctioneer. He started the auction at $2 million -- the 2.3-acre property's tax-assessed value is listed at $2.13 million -- before whittling the number down to $525,000.
A bid was received for $500,000, but that amount was below an undisclosed reserve price set by the sellers, said Jeff Stein, partner at Tranzon Fox.
"They still want to sell it, they still want to find a new owner and operator, and we were close, we just weren't quite where we needed to be," he said. "Everybody wants to see it as continuing in operation as it is, as does the Bernstein Family Foundation. They think it's the highest and best use of the building, and it's just a matter of finding the right person to come in and take this up."
The emporium recorded a gross income of more than $287,000 in 2013, according to Stein.
About 20 people, including Strasburg Town Manager Judson Rex and Town Councilwoman Jocelyn Vena, attended the auction, which was held in the central section of the emporium among dinette sets, lamps and mirrors.
Tranzon Fox auctioned two Middletown properties prior to the emporium auction. A vacant lot on the corner of Main and First Street failed to meet its reserve price, while the site of the historic Larrick's Tavern was sold for $82,500.
Larrick's Tavern as well as the Strasburg Emporium once belonged to the late Leo M. Bernstein, an influential Washington, D.C., banker and philanthropist with multiple real estate holdings in the region. The Bernstein Family Foundation, which currently owns the building, is in the process of liquidating its properties to raise money for its causes and projects.
Stein said they will continue to solicit offers and market the emporium property to find the right buyer.
"It is disappointing because we had a lot of people look at it, and it's not a typical real estate investment where you have one tenant and one building," he said. "Here, you basically have the business too, so the business is leasing out to all the small spaces. But this is a very successful operation, it has great cash flow and in terms of price per square foot, you're talking under $20.
"I guess that speaks a little bit to the economy out here, but I would think it's not going to take too much money to get into this property and it certainly will pay for itself."
For more information on the property, visit tranzon.com or contact Stein at 888-621-2110.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org