A New Jersey lawyer bid $30,000 more than Trotwood to buy the former Sears store. Trotwood is working on a counter bid.

New investor overbids Trotwood to buy former Sears store

An independent bidder offered $30,000 more in bankruptcy court than a Trotwood development group to purchase the former Sears store just hours before a deadline last week.

Arthur Schwartz of Howell, New Jersey, placed a bid Wednesday for $100,000 to buy the property, according to United State Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York records.

Now the Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation is working on a counter bid, said Fred Burkhardt, executive director of Trotwood CIC. The CIC placed a bid for $70,000 last month. Creditors had until Wednesday at 4 p.m. to object.

“I would anticipate that we will counter, but we haven’t identified the exact amount yet,” Burkhardt said. “There’s an old saying in this line of work: ‘Deals ain’t deals until the dollars change hands.’”

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The property is valued at $400,000, according to Montgomery County records. But assessed and appraised values don’t always show the true value, he said.

“At $100,000 it’s still a good buy,” Burkhardt said. “Real estate is real simple…Value is based upon what someone’s willing to pay you for it. You can say you have a $500,000 house. But the fact of the matter is unless you’ve got someone who is going to buy it from you for $500,000, you have a house that’s worth whatever someone’s willing to pay.”

Schwartz put his bid in last week because he thought the sale value was too low, according to the objection submitted by his attorney.

Schwartz has his own law firm in New Jersey, according to a Dayton Daily News investigation of the address used for the objection. His plan “will conform with developing the property to bring tax revenue and gentrification to the location,” according to the court records.

“Our people are talking to their people and we’ll see what happens,” Burkhardt said. “If we were looking at this in terms of a scale of one to 10, 10 being dead-on sure, we were at about an 8 the 31st of July. And I would say it’s probably closer to 50/50 right now.”

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Schwartz’s attorney said Schwartz was willing and able to close on the sale in the same timeline as was proposed in the Trotwood CIC plan, according to court records. He agreed to enter a contract with the same terms except for purchase price and to put down $5,000 within three business days of the bid’s approval.

“We’re working on what we’re going to do next,” Burkhardt said. “We have our finance people looking at what we can afford. We have our legal people looking at what the process and time frame is and God willing, we should have some kind of a response Wednesday or Thursday.”

The Sears building is the only remaining part of the former Salem Mall, which was demolished in 2006. It’s also the only part of the overall site that isn’t controlled by Trotwood.

The building is sound, and would be used in overall redevelopment of the Salem Mall area, Burkhardt previously told the Dayton Daily News. It is planned to be a mixed-use site with housing, restaurants, retail and entertainment, Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald has said.

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