Former Connor Homes building on Route 7 is auctioned off
MIDDLEBURY — Patrick Malone of Montpelier-based Malone Properties was the winning bidder at Tuesday’s auction for the 1741 Route 7 South building that for many years hosted Standard Register and most recently, Connor Homes. He confirmed to the Addison Independent his plans to renovate the now-vacant, 116,000-square-foot building for lease to a single or multiple businesses looking to grow in Middlebury.
Malone was one in a handful of bidders for the property, which includes 19.2 acres of land and two divisible building lots. The auction, conducted by Thomas Hirchak Co., also drew several interested spectators — including Middlebury businessman Tony Neri, who had planned to be in on the bidding.
Ultimately, Malone prevailed with an offer of $1.13 million, according to Addison County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Fred Kenney.
The auction result essentially affirmed Malone’s ownership in the property. That’s because Malone had previously purchased the mortgage from the holder — the People’s Trust Company. So his bid included the mortgage, which the other bids could not reflect.
Malone owns a combined total of 2 million square feet of business/industrial space in the state of Vermont, including “The Cheese Plant” development on Route 116 in Hinesburg, the Ice Barn/Snap Fitness in Milton, Cherry Hill Plaza in Berlin, and the Professional Business Condos on the Barre-Montpelier Road in Montpelier.
Malone Properties specializes in reclaiming older industrial/commercial spaces and outfitting them for entrepreneurs. He specifically cited as examples of that specialty the Eveready plant in St. Albans and the Ethan Allen facility in Randolph.
Renovations on the old Standard Register structure will likely begin this summer, according to Malone. That work will largely focus on the exterior of the structure, as he wants his future tenants to have a say in the future interior improvements. He will quickly get to work recruiting those tenants.
“It’s a building that lends itself well to multiple tenants,” Malone said, noting it is equipped with 11 overhead doors, including nine truck-level loading docks and two grade-level docks.
Kenney confirmed Middlebury’s need for facilities ranging in size from 8,000 to 20,000 square feet to accommodate growing enterprises.
It was in early 2017 that Connor Homes laid off its entire workforce of 63, citing financial reasons. An investment group led by local businessman Sam Pryor assumed ownership of the company’s assets, including its Route 7 headquarters. Founded in 1992, Connor Homes built a reputation for its design and production of colonial reproduction “kit” homes. The company recently reformed and relocated to 227 Pond Lane in Middlebury’s industrial park under the new corporate name “Connor Mill Built Homes.”
The new ownership last spring put the 1741 Route 7 property up for lease or sale, through Nedde Real Estate, for an asking price of $3 million. It was built in 1965 and is currently assessed by the town at $2.4 million.
But the property drew no long-term tenants nor serious buyers. It ultimately went to foreclosure, culminating in Tuesday’s auction.
Doug Nedde — current owner of the Battell Block in downtown Middlebury — was among other bidders for the property, according to Kenney.
Neri late last month had announced plans to be in on the bidding. But he ultimately decided to take a pass, based on the size of the initial bids and what he said were some electrical system deficiencies that will have to be corrected.
New ownership will also be responsible for an outstanding property tax bill of $100,215.
The annual property tax bill for the property has been placed at $65,902.
Kenney has already reached out to Malone to let him know about the local economic development corp.’s services and its willingness to help him find potential clients for 1741 Route 7 South.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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