Former Tryon Federal Bank buildings find no buyer at auction

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carolina Auction eventually withdrew the Tryon Federal buildings from the auction after no bids were obtained. The auction company initially sought bids of more than $700,000, but stopped seeking them after none were received even as low as $400,000.

Smith says he believes the three buildings at the corner of Trade and Oak streets in Tryon are worth $1.5 million and he was not willing to sacrifice them for much less. According to county tax records, the buildings have a total tax value of more than $700,000. Allan Pruette of Century 21 in Tryon, which listed the property, says buyers are considering not only the initial price but renovation costs.

Another landmark property, the old &dquo;Carruth place&dquo; at 105 West Rutherford Street in Landrum, did sell at Saturday&squo;s auction for reportedly $325,000, but Smith decided to buy it back afterward. Smith says he had helped the buyer of that house with another property so the buyer was willing to work with him and sell it back. He says the former Carruth property is worth $700,000 to $800,000 to him.

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&dquo;I was sick about the premise of selling (the Carruth house and the Tryon Federal buildings) anyway,&dquo; said Smith. &dquo;I feel like I dodged a bullet Saturday. Somebody would have to come with some pretty strong figures to get me off them now.&dquo;

Smith says he believes some people spread misinformation about potential environmental problems and liens with the Tryon Federal property that deterred prospective buyers from making bids. There are no such problems with the property, says Smith. The people who spread the rumors then tried to get the property for a very low price, he says, but he was not willing to negotiate.

&dquo;I was disappointed that there were people in town who would try to suppress the sale,&dquo; he says. &dquo;I don&squo;t think they counted on the fact that I don&squo;t need to sell those properties.&dquo;

Smith, who operates the development company Cray Inc. based in Charlotte, says he had put the former Carruth and Tryon Federal properties up for auction along with several other local properties because he is focusing on large projects on the coast and near Charlotte.

The auction produced sales for several of his properties in the Landrum and Spartanburg areas, including some residential and commercial lots.

&dquo;The little stuff all sold so I got that off my plate and I&squo;m left with the bigger stuff,&dquo; Smith says. &dquo;I&squo;m actually very pleased things went the way they did.&dquo;

Smith says he does not have any immediate plans to renovate the former Tryon Federal Bank buildings, which include a total of 12,500 square feet. He previously had architectural drawings completed for the renovation, but has held off on beginning the work.

&dquo;I need the economy to improve. I need some tenants,&dquo; says Smith, who says he&squo;s interested in pre-selling or leasing commercial or residential space in the buildings.

Projects of this kind, he says, generally require pre-selling about 40 to 60 percent of the space. Smith says he hopes to get to that point soon so he can begin the renovation.

&dquo;It does me no good for those buildings to sit vacant,&dquo; he says. &dquo;I realize how important those buildings are to the town and I want it to be nicer than anybody wants it to be.&dquo;

The only reason he included the property in the auction, he says, was to generate more interest in the overall auction event.

Some of the properties in the auction were sold regardless of price, while several others were subject to confirmation of the buyer. Smith says he also declined to sell at the auction a storage facility building he has on John Dodd Road near I-26 in Spartanburg County.