Saratoga Co. hiring on-line public sale agency to promote Saratoga downtown property

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga County supervisors will vote later this month on a proposal to hire an online auction firm to auction off a valuable piece of property the county owns in downtown Saratoga Springs.

The Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee last week recommended the county hire Auctions International Inc., of Erie County, to conduct an online auction of the former county public health nurses’ building at 31 Woodlawn Ave. The board’s Law and Finance Committee will vote on Wednesday, and the full board on Feb. 23.

The building and roughly half-acre that goes with it is valued at about $2.7 million, according to an appraisal the county has had done in anticipation of selling it. The appraisal is not public, but a supervisor inadvertently disclosed the value during the meeting. The committee did not recommend setting a minimum price.

The value lies in the location rather than the three-story brick former industrial building, since it is just a block west of Broadway, and across the street from the Bow Tie Criterion movie theater and luxury condominiums.

“The appraisal did talk a lot about the location,” said Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Matthew Veitch, R-Saratoga Springs.

“The county will have no say once the building is sold,” Vetich said. “The building itself is in good shape. The county has kept the building up.”

The building dates from roughly the 1920s. It is the oldest building in the immediate area, because as a county-owned building it was not demolished during urban renewal initiatives in the 1960s and 1970s.

It has been unused by the county, however, since county Public Health Services moved to the new Paul E. Lent Public Safety Building outside Ballston Spa last August.

Under a lease with the county, Shelters of Saratoga is using part of the building as overflow Code Blue housing for the homeless this winter. The lease runs through March 31; Veitch said the auction won’t start until April, and any sale wouldn’t occur before late May.

County Public Works Commissioner Chad Cooke said Auctions International was selected from among four bidders, due to its being the most experienced. There will be no cost to the county, with the firm compensated through a “buyer’s premium” charged to a successful purchaser.

Auctions International has previously handled back-tax auctions for the county as well as many communities in the county, though this one looks likely to yield the highest return the county has had through an online sale.

Auctions International is the company the county worked with in 2019, when it held an online auction for the former county infirmary property in Providence, which was bought by an individual who supports establishing a veterans’ retreat there. The county got $55,100 for that property, in what was regarded as a success.

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