Real Estate & Construction  December 17, 2010

Wellington auction could spur development

WELLINGTON – In 90 wind-swept minutes on Dec. 9, about 300 acres of land and Wellington’s only grocery store changed hands at an auction attended by about 75 investors, would-be developers and interested onlookers.

When it was over, $6.2 million had been raised for Parker developer Delmer Zweygardt, who has been involved in property development in Wellington for about a decade.

The auction, conducted by Tulsa-based Williams and Williams Worldwide Real Estate Auction, included the sale for $1.65 million of the building where Main Street Market -Wellington’s only grocery store – opened in 2007.

Directly west of Main Street Market, an 80-plus-acre parcel known as Paradise Ranch zoned for mixed-use development sold for $1.5 million.

Other parcels in the auction included a 185-acre agricultural parcel known as Demmel Lake, 12 commercial lots mostly along Interstate 25 and 103 residential lots in The Knolls, just south of Wellington near the town’s new school, Rice Elementary.

Tommy Williams, auctioneer, said Zweygardt was getting on in years and simply wanted to “have less irons in the fire” by reducing his property holdings.

“I know you may have heard he had to sell this property but that’s not true,” Williams told the crowd. “This is strictly a sale at the volunteer of the owner.”

Larry Lorentzen, Wellington town administrator, said Zweygardt started picking up properties in and around Wellington in 2001. Lorentzen said he thought the sale was economy-related.

“I think it’s basically just the (economic) downturn,” he said. “He’s a developer who came in and developed a couple subdivisions and then the downturn happened and he wanted to sell it.”

Curtis Vernon with Keller Williams in Fort Collins, who set up the auction, said the $6.2 million raised by the sale failed to meet the owner’s expectations.

“I wish it would have gone better, but you set a day to sell everything and you take your chances,” he said.

Vernon would not comment on how much Zweygardt had hoped to receive at the auction. “I’m not saying it went bad, but as a real estate agent trying to do the best for my client it was somewhat disappointing,” he said. “Had I listed some of those properties at prices for more than what they sold for, I could have sold them.”

Vernon said the auction had “a good turnout, for sure,” but there weren’t enough investors willing to pay more and sit on the property until the economy rebounds.

Vernon said Zweygardt’s decision to release the properties was “economically driven.”

“He was looking for a way to move on and get out of Wellington,” Vernon said.

A woman who answered the telephone at Zweygardt’s Parker residence last week said he would not comment on the land sale.

Investment opportunity

Wellington resident Dan Hupp was one of the successful bidders on some commercial lots just south of Main Street Market. Hupp said he had no particular plans for the lots at present.

“It’s just an investment,” he said.

Property buyers had to put down a 10 percent non-refundable deposit on their purchases immediately after the auction and agree to complete closing on the property by Dec. 31.

Main Street Market is leased by Panhandle Cooperative System based in Scottsbluff, Neb. The co-op, founded in 1942, includes three Nebraska groceries, a store in Torrington, Wyo., and the Wellington store along with several gas stations, convenience stores, fuel and propane delivery businesses and seed and fertilizer outlets.

Bob Pile, Panhandle president, did not respond to a request for comment on the sale.

Panhandle’s current lease runs until 2017, and auctioneer Williams said Panhandle has the option of renewing the lease for two additional 10-year periods. Williams said the store generates about $200,000 in profit annually.

Williams said the Dec. 9 sale was a rare moment for investors to make a fast profit. “For investors, this is an auction from heaven, as I see it,” he said.

Williams said his company could not release the names of high bidders but noted that information would become public after each property closing.

Wellington administrator Lorentzen said the sale prices for many of the residential lots, which averaged under $15,000, would likely make building homes more economically viable than had been the case.

“(Builders) should be able to build a house and sell them and make some money, and result in some more building permits pulled here in the next few years,” he said.

“Hopefully, if everything goes through and things get closed on, it should spur some good things to happen in Wellington.”

Vernon said Zweygardt has left a legacy in Wellington as developer of a motel, fast-food restaurant and a convenience store along I-25 and several subdivisions.

“He’s put more than $10 million in infrastructure into Wellington,” Vernon said.

Vernon added that the development property sold at auction will enhance and continue the legacy Zweygardt has left for the town.

“(That land) is definitely Wellington’s future, and that town has so much potential,” he said. “With the amount of infrastructure Delmer Zweygardt put in that town, he placed it in a position to really grow when things turn around.”

WELLINGTON – In 90 wind-swept minutes on Dec. 9, about 300 acres of land and Wellington’s only grocery store changed hands at an auction attended by about 75 investors, would-be developers and interested onlookers.

When it was over, $6.2 million had been raised for Parker developer Delmer Zweygardt, who has been involved in property development in Wellington for about a decade.

The auction, conducted by Tulsa-based Williams and Williams Worldwide Real Estate Auction, included the sale for $1.65 million of the building where Main Street Market -Wellington’s only grocery store – opened in 2007.

Directly west of Main Street Market,…

Related Content