The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Business

January 19, 2012

Auction of land near prison brings in $3.5 million

No opposition presented at sale

ANDERSON, Ind. — Nine tracts of land surrounding the Pendleton Correctional Facility sold for $3,465,000 during a Thursday auction in Anderson.

The auction, which lasted nearly two and a half hours at the Garden Hotel, sold off 658 acres. For much of the auction there was a bidder for the farm land in its entirety although that bidder dropped out after bids for the tracts individually went above $3.4 million.

The highest individual bid came from Brian Reichart, owner of Orestes-based Red Gold, who purchased two tracts for $1,555,000 total.

Reichart said he was looking for farmland that could be irrigated to plant “quality Red Gold tomatoes.”

He said he felt he got a good deal for the property and was happy with the auction — done by Colliers International.

More than 70 people were at the auction with about 35 registered bidders.

Originally, 851 acres were to be sold. However, the state donated one parcel of land to the town of Pendleton.

All of the tracts sold are zoned for agriculture meaning if anyone wished to build commercial or residential property they would have to have the property rezoned.

The announced sale of the acreage had brought opposition, including state Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, who said the land’s sale would halve the buffer zone between the prison and a nearby elementary school. Dozens signed a petition circulated by former prison guard Joe Riley and his daughter Kelly Borgman.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Administration, which manages the state’s real estate leases, said the same patterns of patrols of the area will continue.

The Department of Administration decided to sell the land, she said, because it was no longer being farmed by correctional facility staff and inmates and the acres will be added to the county’s tax base.

There was no demonstration or incident from opponents during the auction.

Larry Smith, of New Castle, was at the auction although he didn’t bid on any of the land. He said he was upset not because of safety concerns but that the state felt the need to sell the property.

“It seems like the governor is trying to sell everything we have off,” Smith said. “That’s the people’s land. What right does he have to sell it all off? Sell, sell, sell; that’s all the governor has done.”

He also expressed some concern about where the proceeds from the sale would go.

Contact Abbey Doyle: 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com

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