Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Village may sell land to Mecum

by Rob Ireland

March 15, 2012

WALWORTH — Mecum Auctions is looking to purchase from the village a small parcel of land off of Fairview Drive for its proposed multi-million dollar expansion.

The property was donated to the village by the developers of the now defunct Windmill Prairie Subdivision as a site for a new fire station.

After the meeting, Village President David Rasmussen and Trustee Kent Johnson said there isn’t an immediate need for a new fire station and the village could obtain a different parcel for one when necessary.

On Monday night, the Village Board met in closed session for about a half hour to discuss the sale of public property and a tentative union agreement.

As part of the developers agreement with the Windmill Prairie Subdivision, the village received a parcel of land to build its new fire station. The subdivision failed and is now owned by the bank.

Talmer Bank and Trust issued a notice of foreclosure sale on Dec. 5 against the Windmill Communities LLC, according to online court records.

After Monday’s closed session, the board made a motion to have the land appraised at a cost not to exceed $1,000. However, it didn’t act in open session on the tentative union agreement.

On Tuesday morning, Walworth Emergency Service Director Chris Severt said the fire station at that location would have been convenient had the subdivision occurred.

“Depending how development goes in the village that may not be the best location for the future if that subdivision doesn’t go through,” Severt said.

Severt said he hopes if the village sells the land, some of the proceeds are given to the fire department, which spent its own fundraised money to build a garage.

“Or, rather than sell, look to have Mecum trade land,” he said. “We’re just hoping to get land somewhere else for when we do get to the point of building at a new location.”

Both Johnson and Rasmussen said they were willing to work with the auction company. Rasmussen said the village could probably include language in the sale, which would allow the village the “right of first refusal” if Mecum decided to sell the land in the future.

Last month Mecum Auctions announced that it is moving its corporate headquarters to the village of Walworth from Marengo, Ill., and that it plans to expand its operations.

The multi-million dollar plans include a car museum, a car storage facility and an area to host an annual auction. If all goes according to the company’s plan, it will bring a large four-day auction to Walworth in September.

About four years ago, Mecum Auctions, which is located in the old Spiegelhoff Piggy Wiggly building at 445 South Main St., moved to the village and originally used the site for storage.

In 2011, Mecum Auctions sold about $175 million in vehicles, and the company bills itself as the largest collector car auction house in America.

Mecum Auctions also is featured on a TV show, “Muscle Cars and More,” on the Discovery Network’s Velocity channel. Auctions are often broadcasted live for hours on end.

However, before the plans can come to fruition, the company will need to secure a $26.5 million industrial bond, which the village backed at a board meeting in February.

With the village backing the bond, private investors can purchase the bond and not pay federal income taxes on the interest the investors earn. If Mecum fails, the village isn’t liable for the bond.