Fort Myers plaza up for auction

By DICK HOGAN • news-press.com

A Fort Myers shopping center is part of a $400 million package of foreclosed properties around Florida that are being sold in one huge auction.

The only Southwest Florida property in the auction is Edison Park Plaza Center, a 59,969-square-foot shopping center on a 333,234-square-foot parcel of land on Winkler Avenue across the street from the Edison Mall. That center, former home of the Edison Park 8 Cinema, is still for sale at the auction.

The properties are being sold off in a process that has elements of both an auction and a traditional real estate transaction, said Joe Korbar, managing director of Carlton Advisory Services, an international investment banking firm.

It’s “first come, first served,” and Carlton is selling to bidders who offer the right price the fastest, he said. “I think we can get very good bids, and we have been. Three hundred people signed up for the sale in four days” when the auction started last month.

Auctions are increasingly the solution to moving the growing number of properties that are being taken back by lenders in foreclosure, said Tim Kistel, a Fort Myers-based real estate broker who’s with his own TRK Real Estate Services as well as national auction company Tranzon Driggers.

“Auctions are making properties sell that otherwise just sit there,” he said. “It creates excitement, it creates action, it gets people off the fence and motivates them to act rather than ponder it.”

It’s also a way to find what the market actually is for properties that might have gone for much more a few years ago when commercial real estate was riding high, Kistel said. “An auction represents the truest form of market value.”

Korbar said his buyers nowadays understand that prices aren’t what they once were.

“They are sophisticated, they understand there’s intrinsic value in these assets,” he said. “Obviously they’re not buying at the highs, from ’06 or ’07.”

There’s a wide range of buyers looking at the properties, Korbar said. “It’s a whole rainbow: institutional money down to the local buyer.”

Kistel said that when it comes to selling commercial property, sooner is better.

“It costs about a third of the value per year to carry,” he said. “The property just sits there and deteriorates.”

To see the properties being auctioned by Carlton, go to www.carltonexchange.com/.

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