Cash on the barrel head. No terms. Take it all or leave it alone.
Until this week, those were the conditions on a $6.5 million minimum bid for 33 acres of Louisiana-Pacific Corp. property on the Spokane River.
L-P now is considering everything from creative financing to breaking up the former sawmill site and selling it piecemeal. The accommodating stance came after no acceptable bids were received in a sealed-bid auction on Nov. 12.
“I think the company would listen to any offer from anyone who can show enough strength to make it look reasonable,” said Tim Reinertsen, senior vice president of Realty Marketing/Northwest, the firm handling the sale.
The property was one of seven listings in a $50 million catalog of L-P real estate being sold in three states.
A marketing package advertised the land in three parcels - a small retail strip along Spokane Street, a larger section designated for secondary commercial use and about 14 acres of waterfront property.
L-P reserved the right to refuse bids that didn’t take in all of the acreage at the minimum total price.
“The goal has always been to sell the entire piece, but if somebody came up with the right offer, L-P would consider selling it in any number of ways,” Reinertsen said.
Post Falls has been waiting for development at the abandoned sawmill site to spark interest in the surrounding “mill town” district.
“You’re not going to get investors in that old, sleepy part of town until somebody else goes in first,” said Allan Mastros, broker at Treaty Rock Realty in Post Falls.
“It’s going to take a pioneer to move in there and develop it,” he said.
The city, which has said it supports any combination of retail, residential or resort construction, is prepared to wait as long as it takes to find the right investor.
“Nobody’s sitting on pins and needles,” said Colin Coles, associate planner for Post Falls.
According to Reinertsen, Realty Marketing/Northwest still is talking to potential buyers in a process he compared to selling a home. Someone makes an offer, the agent counters it and then checks to see if the seller will accept.
In the first round of negotiations, the offers were too low for consideration.
“There’ve been all kinds of ideas coming forward, but nothing acceptable,” Reinertsen said.
Developers who might be interested in the site haven’t stopped by the planning department for information.
“If I was going to plunk down $6.5 million, I’d ask some questions of the local community first,” Coles said. “But there’s been nobody down here nosing around and we haven’t had anybody asking questions.”
One question investors might ask concerns the status of the waterfront. Due to its proximity to the Washington Water Power Co. dam, the property sits on a stretch of the Spokane River that is off-limits for several months of the year.
Both Kootenai County and the city of Post Falls passed ordinances banning recreational use of the water when WWP has its dam gates open at high-water periods in the spring and part of the summer.
“Washington Water Power made that recommendation a couple of years ago after some people pushed off in their boat, the motor didn’t start and they went over the dam,” said Sandy Emerson, who chairs the Kootenai County Waterways Advisory Board. “It’s not something we’re trying to enforce to the detriment of a private property owner, it’s just good sense.”
Mastros suspects there might be wiggle room in the ordinance, leaving an opening for waterfront development that could spur additional commercial growth.
“The L-P property will be what ignites Post Falls revitalization,” Mastros said, adding that surrounding property owners are anxious to see a sale go through.
No one would like that more than L-P and its real estate agent.
“We’re equally anxious,” Reinertsen said.
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