Auctioneer 'shocked' that auction of UAW Local 599 building in Flint canceled at last minute
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012, 12:21 PM Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012, 1:07 PM
a major auction at Flint's UAW Local 599, Steven Cole said he was told the event had been canceled.
"I was completely shocked," said Cole, owner of Steven Cole and Associates, the auction company that had been hired to run the bidding on UAW Local 599 union hall and all its contents.
"There had been some rumors about someone thinking of canceling the auction a month ago, but the day before the auction? This is ridiculous," said Cole.
Cole said he was busy at the site making last minute preparations when he was told that the international union had called off the entire sale.
"They got a call here and they were told stop the auction, don't sell the building and don't sell the personal property," Cole said.
The owner of the Flint and Lapeer-based auction company says in his 20 years of business, this is the first time anyone has ever canceled an auction.
Cole says his business is based on commissions from sales, so he is currently working with the union to determine what will be done about compensation.
Cole reported more than 15-thousand page views for the UAW 599 auction on his website prior to the event being canceled. As a result, he had expected hundreds of people to turn out tomorrow.
Cole says he will post the cancelation on his website and will send an email blast to several thousand people, but expects there will be many people who will not receive the news in time.
"I guess I'll be there tomorrow morning meeting people who show up and spending a lot of time apologizing," said Cole.
UAW Local 599 president Bill Jordan confirmed the auction has been called off. He would not offer a reason, but said local 599 membership will be staying in the building.
Auction of UAW Local 599 in Flint halted because of new purchase agreement
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012, 5:00 PM
A purchase agreement for the building was signed today, less than 24 hours before the planned Saturday auction,Jordan said. The agreement involves Local 599 staying in the building as a tenant.
"The hall will be utilized as a union hall and as a facility for the community," said Jordan. "It will become a showcase facility, something that people are going to come to. It's going to be something for the betterment of the community, for people to come and see things."
As an example, Jordan said, people may come to see an antique Buick parked in the building one day. He denied, however, that the building would be turned into an automotive museum. He referred to it, instead, as a "community attraction."
Jordan identified the purchaser only as "a corporation with interest in the community." He said plans for the building and details on the corporation would be released in the next few weeks, after paperwork on the sale is processed.
He denied reports by the auctioneer that the auction was stopped by the international union. Jordan did say the deal was brokered with the assistance of the UAW regional office, "and there might have been an international representative at the regional office."
The building had been for sale for over a year before the union decided to move ahead with an auction to sell it. Jordan said he can only speculate why the corporation waited until the 11th hour to move ahead with a purchase offer.
"Over the last year, we had a number of people interested in purchasing the building, but those deals fell through," Jordan said. "I'm guessing when the deals didn't come through, they said, 'Let's step up to the plate and see what we can do to keep this building for the community.'"
Jordan says he believes the corporation may have some of its employees work out of the Leith Street building. Those details have yet to be worked out.
As for what will happen with the thousands of items and memorabilia prepared for auction that are sitting in the building's auditorium -- some things will be tossed and most will be put back in place, according to Jordan.
"There are a number of things that are unsalvagable, so we'll have to sort things out and get rid of the trash," said Jordan. "The furniture will go back in place, we'll have to decide what to do with some of the computers. The historical memorabilia will still be there."
Jordan says he understand the confusion that might result from canceling the auction at the last minute. He plans to be outside of the building Saturday morning, apologizing and explaining the situation to those who might show up.