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New owners of Greencastle lot enthusiastic

July 18, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Rich Bateman's promise for the downtown Greencastle lot he won at auction was simple: "It's going to look better than it does."

Bateman visibly displayed his excitement after bidding $95,000 and making .14 acres at the intersection of Pa. 16 and Washington Street his own to share with friend and business partner Mark Siner.

The two, called "kind of dreamers" by Bateman, formed Trolley Road Properties recently to further immerse themselves in the town where they grew up.

"Mark and I have been talking about this for a long time. ... We believe in Greencastle and the fact that it's a growing community," Bateman said.

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The pair do not have a plan for the lot where a three-story building burned, partially collapsed and was demolished earlier this year.

"We'll probably think of something grandiose and then back down," Bateman said with a laugh.

A term of sale was that construction or foundation work begin in the next six months, auctioneer Matthew Hurley said.

Bateman and Siner have discussed filling the existing hole and temporarily adding grass and park benches for a passive recreation area. They also talked about paving the property for a parking lot, Bateman said.

Both options would afford them time to develop a permanent use for the site, he said.

Kevin McDermott of Frederick, Md., attended the auction to approve the winning bid for the property he bought in July 2005. The brick building was in disrepair at the time, he said.

McDermott, an airline pilot, said he spent much of his spare time at the building and had hopes to continue its restoration.

"That old building was just so cool, and it would've been great to have that restored," Bateman said.

Instead, a Jan. 26 fire left five families temporarily homeless and the apartments and downstairs businesses in a condemned state. McDermott saw that the building was demolished and fenced off, then decided to sell the lot for what he identified as family reasons.

"There's no money being made here," McDermott said. "It was a family thing."

With seven registered participants, bidding started at $50,000 but soon stalled around $65,000. Hurley gave bidders a few breaks to ask questions and further consider their options as they huddled in any available shade nearby.

"If you are hot, bid quickly," joked Hurley, who claimed to love the heat.

He repeatedly reminded the bidders that the lot was about "location, location, location."

"Today we are not selling you a lot, we're selling you location. Greencastle is a beautiful setting. ... (Interstate) 81 is a minute" away, he said. Hurley also pointed across the street to the post office and popular Antrim House Family Restaurant and Wolf's Bakery.

After about 20 minutes, bidding fizzled at $84,000.

"I end every auction with the one-minute countdown," Hurley said, starting his watch.

That one minute then saw bidding jump from $84,000 to the $95,000 final bid.

"Real estate auctions are the fastest-growing trend in real estate," Hurley said, citing information he received at a national convention.

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