A bank-ordered auction is set for an old South Bend retail storefront that has sat vacant since the commercial real estate market collapse nearly five years ago.
The Jan. 16 auction could mean a new user for the longtime Target store, which was last used by defunct sports apparel company Steve & Barry's.
Key Auctioneers is optimistic the 1 p.m. auction will yield a buyer that intends to bring the building back to life at 605 N. Hickory Road, near McKinley Avenue.
Centier Bank, which owns the 153,000-square-foot building, decided to auction the commercial building after attempts to sell it proved unsuccessful.
"The date creates action, interest and motivation from a buyer knowing that something's going to happen. There's an aggressive seller that wants it sold," says Jeff Doner, vice president/principal broker for Key Auctioneers, based in Indianapolis.
But uncertainties remain.
"The auction may very well (produce) a speculator that buys the building and puts it back on the market," Doner says.
His company began marketing the building and its auction date before Christmas, with a focus on possible investors in Indianapolis, Chicago and Detroit.
"Most properties sell to people who are pretty darn close (in proximity)," Doner says. "But we try not to pigeonhole the property at all" into a proposed future use.
The old Target building was constructed in 1970 and has always been used for commercial purposes. Local shoppers might remember the building as an Ayr-Way, Thrif-T-Mart and a one-time Martin's Super Market.
Target occupied the building for much of 1990s and remained there until 2002, when its Mishawaka supercenter opened on University Drive.
The building sat vacant until December 2006, when Steve & Barry's was expanding its chain of sports apparel stores. Steve & Barry's closed the store in 2008 and later folded as a company.
The building, once known as McKinley Square shopping center, was listed at $7.9 million in 2010.
"But it would've been a very serious uphill battle to have another retailer in there. The commercial real estate market has been down really bad and it was as bad as it could get when Steve & Barry's left," Doner says.
Now, the commercial real estate market is seeing more activity than it has in years, he says. And there is no list price on the building that could deter a potential investor or end-user from looking into the property.
"The bank has the right to accept or reject the final bid," he says. "They don't know what that will be. It depends on how many bidders we have on auction day."
For as old as the building is, Doner says, the single-story structure has a good roof, a full sprinkler system, three truck level docks and four overhead doors.
It sits on more than 10.5 acres and has about 470 parking spaces.