August 12, 2016
By Greg Smith Day staff writer
New London - The Lighthouse Inn is set to go to
the highest bidder.
The City Council
formally voted earlier this month to send the city-owned property at 48 Guthrie Place to
an absolute auction with no minimum bid.
The auction is
likely to occur in late September or early October.
The council approved
hiring Jerome J. Manning & Co. Auctioneers, of Yarmouth Port, Mass.,
to advertise and conduct the auction.
Passero, who was on vacation this week, is expected to sign the listing
agreement next week. The council is appropriating $10,000 from the Housing and
Community Development fund balance to pay for the sale.
The move comes
after several failed auctions and most recently an unsuccessful attempt to name
a preferred developer whose ideas about rehabilitation of the property were in
sync with the council and desires of residents.
auction would be the first time the property - with 4.2 acres and 54 guest
rooms split between the mansion and carriage house - goes to the public without
a minimum bid.
Venditto, chairman of the council's Economic Development Committee, said one of
the few stipulations at the auction is that there be at least three
bidders - a move that may or may not help to avoid a $1 bid.
Tax abatements will
not be part of the sale.
At its current
assessment, the property would bring in $67,000 annually in tax revenues.
The inn, built in
1902, closed abruptly in 2008. The city became owners in 2013 following a tax
auction that failed to elicit a single bid.
A new owner could
decide to renovate and reopen the inn, since it is a grandfathered use of the
Otherwise, the only
other accepted use - without a special permit - is construction of a
single-family home, or homes if the property is subdivided.
Demolition of the
building might be complicated by the fact it is on the National Register of
Venditto said the
weeks leading up to the auction are likely to be used for marketing by the
auctioneer company, which has an extensive list of potential buyers.
He said he also
expects there will be an open house, possibly two, before the auction.
In a typical
auction, the highest bidder will have 45 days to come up with the entire
The council voted
5-0 to approve the hiring of the auctioneer at its Aug. 1 meeting.
Satti and Anthony Nolan abstained from the vote.
company has a maintenance contract with the city on the property. It is unclear
why Nolan abstained from the vote. He was not immediately available for