BERKSHIRE EAGLE - Otis Reservoir Property set to be Sold at Auction

June 12, 2016

Otis Reservoir property set to be sold at auction

By Tony Dobrowolski @TonyDobrow on Twitter

Berkshire Eagle

Posted:Sun Jun 12 10:03:04 MDT 2016

OTIS - Almost a year after a luxury Berkshire property was sold at auction, a second county site is being marketed in the same manner.

A 35-plus acre property on Otis Reservoir that once housed a marina, and has received approval for a 53-unit residential development, will be sold at auction on June 24 at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. The auction starts at noon.

"We wanted to be somewhere that would be desirable in the Berkshires," said Justin Manning, of J.J. Manning Auctioneers of Massachusetts, referring to the auction site.

J.J. Manning is handling the sale with Max Spann Real Estate and Auction Company of New Jersey. The two firms are acting as "regional partners," Manning said.

Previews of the property, located at Reservoir Road and Route 23, are scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, 6/15.

The parcel has been owned since 2007 by Otis Lake Partners, LLC of Great Barrington, which is associated with Becker Brothers, a New York City-based real estate firm that owns properties in several states.

Bidders are required to place $100,000 in certified funds with the auctioneers to participate, Manning SAID.

The high bidder will be required to increase that original investment by 10 percent within three days after the auction takes place. The sale is required to close within 45 days.

In August 2015, Southmayd Farm in Stockbridge, a Gilded Age mansion considered to be one of the Berkshire's most exclusive residential properties, also was sold at auction by a New York City-based luxury real estate auction firm. The results of that auction have never been made public.

"The auction business is a niche business," Manning said. "Most people's perception is that an auction infers a property is in distress. The majority of the time it's true.

"But our niche in the auction industry is selling property for individuals or groups who choose to sell at auction rather than be forced to sell at auction," he said.

These kinds of auctions have, "an overwhelming amount of advertising, and define terms and timelines," he added.

Like Southmayd Farm, the Otis Reservoir property is being marketed regionally and nationally with notices in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The notice in the Wall Street Journal was published on Wednesday.

Inquiries have already come from potential buyers who reside in "six or seven states," Manning said.

The parcel is being sold in its entirety, meaning the sale includes the real estate, and waterways license plus any available permissions, approvals, variances, permits, certificates, orders of conditions, plans, drawings or estimates that come with it, according to the auction notice.

But Manning said the buyer is not required to develop the land.

"We've sold several properties like this in other places in Massachusettsand the Cape to conservation groups," Manning said.

"We're selling it under the current conditions, which means it's being conveyed with everything and anything concerned with it, so if somebody wants to develop it they can move through the process," Manning added.

The site, which housed a marina for 36 years, has a Massachusettswaterways license that is good for 99 years and allows for a more than 60-foot waterfront redevelopment area with up to 30 docks over 20-feet and a public dock. Fifteen new docks and 12 moorings are currently in place.

Otis Lake Partners decided to sell the property at auction because they have been occupied with developments in several other areas and haven't had time to devote to the site.

"Since they acquired this property, they've had a tremendous amount of development in Brooklyn (N.Y.) and New Jersey, and all of their resources are focused in those areas," Manning said. "At the time they picked it up they weren't as busy in those areas.

"It ends up being something that they're carrying," Manning said, referring to the Otis Reservoir site.

Otis Lake Partners purchased most of the site nine years ago for $4 million from James, Richard and Rosemary Fink, according to documents filed at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Great Barrington. They also bought a smaller adjacent parcel from another owner that provides more frontage along Route 23.

James and Richard Fink, who are brothers, owned J&D Marina, a 56-slip marina and boat launch, on the site for 36 years before they sold the property.

They also operated a restaurant at the marina that was known as "The Gathering Place."

Although they never built on the parcel, Otis Lake Partners originally spent thousands of dollars in site planning, engineering, architectural plans and legal fees on the site, and spent months negotiating with the Otis Conservation Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Otis Reservoir is a 1,065 acre waterway that is located in parts of three towns - Otis, Tolland and Blandford. It is one of the largest recreational waterways in Massachusetts, and is annually stocked with trout by the state. Part of the reservoir borders on Tolland State Forest.