A flurry of last-minute interest prompted the sellers of an iconic Bonita Springs ship to delay its auction.
“The Troy Franco” was scheduled to be auctioned Saturday, but at least 15 buyers who heard about the date through the media this week didn’t have time to register as bidders.
“You guys put wind in our sails and now we’ll see where it takes us,” Realtor Brett Baugh told reporters gathered at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Estero Saturday morning where the auction was to be held.
Baugh is a Realtor with Paradise Realty of Southwest Florida, which put on the auction Saturday.
At least 50 bidders had expressed interest in the property as of Saturday morning, but bidders had to be registered 72 hours in advance with proof from their banks that they could afford to pay a winning bid.
They also had to make a $50,000 deposit to partake in the auction.
The starting bid for the faux Spanish galleon, which has been for sale for two years, is $700,000. Lee County has estimated the value of the 3.62-acre site to be about $1.36 million. Broker Thaddeaus Deitriech said the property could sell for more than $2 million.
“We’ve had an incredible amount of response in the last 24 hours but people can’t get here,” Deitriech said. “They can’t move the funds in time.”
The winner will have to enter into a sales contract immediately and pay 10 percent of the winning bid price that day.
The auction was to take place at the hotel, but bidders could also participate online or by phone. Brokers aren’t sure when or where the next auction will happen.
“It may be after the first of the year because in two weeks you have Christmas and then New Year’s,” Baugh said.
Interested bidders should contact Paradise Realty to sign up for the auction. Their website is www.paradiserealtyswfl.com.
The ship, located at 24080 U.S. 41 near the Bonita Springs-Estero border, used to be a restaurant, but Hurricane Charley did some damage to the building in 2004 and since then it has fallen into disrepair. The owners had plans to restore the 10,800-square-foot structure, but now just want to sell.
Bidders have told Realtors they’re considering a preschool or children’s dentist office at the site, among other ideas.
“It’s been vacant for some time now,” Baugh said. “Everyone thought ‘there’s time’ (to buy) and obviously now with the frenzy we’ve had, everyone’s last minute.”
Broker-associate Helen Deitriech said it would be a disservice to the property owner not to entertain all possible bids by delaying the auction.
“This is a good problem to have,” she said.