Kathy Antoniotti
and Betty Lin-Fisher

HARTVILLE: A shopping plaza on West Maple Street received a high bid of $7.3 million during an online auction Wednesday.

The auction for the Hartville Center anchored by a Giant Eagle grocery store began Monday and ended at 2:27 p.m. Wednesday, when the final bid came in about four minutes before the end of the auction. A notice on the website at Auction.com flashed a “Sold Subject To!!!” sign as the auction clock timed out.

“That certainly is a chunk of change,” remarked Hartville Mayor Richard Currie at the close of the sale.

“I don’t know a lot about real estate values, so I don’t know if it is a competitive price,” he said.

Rockwood Real Estate Advisors represented the owner of the strip-style plaza. The 108,612 square foot, three-building property on 20 acres of land includes retail space and medical offices, a stand alone gas station and houses the village post office.

The buildings have an occupancy rate of 73.6 percent, according to a description of the sale on the auction site.

The property was brought out of foreclosure by CW Capital, a Washington D.C.-area company that specializes in distressed properties.

Stark County property tax records indicate a $71,102 tax payment was made on Feb. 14. The appraised total value of the land and property for the year 2012 was listed as $6.365 million, down from $7.722 million for 2011.

“The winning bidder will need to do some upgrades. The property could use a facelift,” said Currie.

Many of the businesses in the plaza have been there since the concrete masonry units were constructed in the late 1980s, said Currie.

“I hope the owners are afforded the opportunity to stay,” he said.

A Giant Eagle representative said Wednesday the Pittsburgh-based, family-owned supermarket was not involved in the bidding process but that the sale of the property would not affect the store.

The land for that store and another Giant Eagle store in Green on Corporate Woods Parkway were both foreclosed on by CW Capital in 2011 after it purchased the debt from the previous owner, said CBRE broker Christian Williams.

Williams brokered the deal to sell the Green property to Echo, a company with common shareholders with Giant Eagle, last April for $7.091 million.

The Hartville property was in and out of contracts, but was not successful in a sale, and CW Capital made the decision to take it to an auction format, Williams said.

Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan said the grocer was not participating in the Hartville auction.

However, the representative said the future of both stores was stable.

“In both instances, Giant Eagle plans to have stores for years to come,” Donovan said.

The Hartville store sought and was successful in passing a local liquor option in November after the Stark County Board of Elections redesigned precinct boundaries. The new map added part of Lake Township to the village precinct that includes the grocery store. Voters approved the sale of beer, wine and mixed alcoholic beverages Monday through Saturday in the community that has been “dry” since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.

Voters turned down a proposal to allow for liquor sales on Sunday.

“Giant Eagle had an issue on the ballot in November to sell liquor and Hartville is no longer ‘dry.’ The Sunday carryout issue failed. I guess people had a conscience and decided ‘Never on Sunday,’ ” Currie said.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com. Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com