CLARION – Clarion County holds judicial sales every other year, and the one conducted on June 29 in Courtroom One brought a few surprises.
A Judicial Sale is a sale permitted under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Sale Act which provides for an auction of real property due to delinquent property taxes that were not sold at an earlier Upset Tax Sale or Sheriff’s Sale.
Six properties were listed for sale, but only one was expected to generate a lot of interest — the 63.9-acre former 76 Truck Stop in Clarion Township on Route 322 near Exit 70 of Interstate 80.
Courtroom One of the Clarion County Courthouse was full of an interested and curious audience. The sale was introduced by county solicitor Christy Logue and followed by Tax Claims director Megan Kerr and auctioneer Todd Beichner.
The former truck stop was listed with a $1,300 minimum bid. Once the bidding started, it slowed quickly, and the bidding ended at $60,000. Three individuals or groups were believed to be the likely bidders: Miles Brothers Inc., Joe Ferguson, and the Amish. A fourth bidder suddenly stepped into the bidding. At the end of the bidding, no one was sure who was the winning bidder.
The answer came later that afternoon at the Tax Claims Office in the county Administration Building when it was revealed that an unknown individual had been authorized to bid in the name of the Miles Brothers.
Theron Miles later said that an individual who is involved in a partnership with Miles Brothers for the remediation and development of the old truck stop had been authorized to bid in the name of Miles Brothers.
“Through a large collaborative effort, the brownfield site will be remediated for future development to transform the crossroads of Route 322 and I-80. This is a remarkable opportunity to invest in the future of Clarion; we’re excited to be involved and look forward to the growth and prosperity this will bring to our community,” Miles said.
Miles Brothers Inc. has extensive experience in rehabilitating brownfield areas such as the Clarion Glassworks site that formerly housed the Clarion O-I Glass plant.
Environmental conditions from the abandoned truck stop were suspected, but the independent Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) was approved earlier this year for a $37,344 Industrial Sites Reuse Program (ISRP) grant for a two-phase environmental study on the property. The truck stop provided fueling and repair services and operations dating back to the 1970s.
The second property for auction, a residential one-and-a-half story house with a separate three-stall garage and an apartment above the garage on Greenville Pike, commanded a higher price than the truck stop. Thomas Crissman and Nicolle Taydus won the house with a bid of $76,000 for the .507-acre property.
A one-story house in East Brady at 300 East Third Street, and another house at 3122 Traister Road in Madison Township, were won by CF Real Estate LLC of Kersey, with bids of $2,975.
Gary and Sandy Steithner won a two-acre vacant lot in Toby Township for a $2,500 bid. The two are neighbors to the lot and wanted the property for access.
Kerr said the number of people was an average audience.
“My one judicial sale had almost 80 properties on it, and I had 150 people show up for that one. Since I’m just a one-person office, we hold them every other year. Today’s (sales) were a continuance from December’s sale. Since we actually did one in 2019, my next one will be in 2021.”
She was pleased with the results of last Monday’s auction.
“I think it went really well. To be honest, I wished the truck stop would have gone for a little bit more. I felt bad because almost all of the money would go to the school district, and they haven’t got any real estate taxes since 2007 when the truck stop declared bankruptcy, and you couldn’t touch them. Basically any money that we brought in from the truck stop would have gone straight to the school district.
“I’m just glad it’s back on the tax rolls,” Kerr added.