ROCKLAND, Maine — The First bank submitted the highest bids in two separate auctions Monday for properties that had been used as collateral for Village NetMedia’s newspaper purchases less than four years ago.
The bank held the mortgages on the commercial buildings in Camden and the former newspaper printing plant in Rockland.
James Folsom represented The First at auctions that were held first in Rockland at the Gordon Drive property and then in Camden at the Elm Street property. He submitted winning bids of $550,000 for the 71 Elm St. property and $150,000 for the 1 Gordon Drive property.
There were three registered bidders for the former printing plant located in Rockland’s Industrial Park but only the bank and David Bird of rope-maker Custom Cordage of Waldoboro made bids during the 5-minute auction. Bird made a bid of $125,000 before being outbid by the bank. Bird said he was interested in more space.
In Camden, there were four registered bidders. A group of investors who were not identified bid $525,000 before being outbid by the bank.
Folsom said the bank will market the properties for sale.
The Camden property is assessed by the town at $775,900. Attorney Jacob Manheimer of Portland, who conducted the auction, said the Camden property was a beautiful piece not often seen in foreclosure auctions.
“This is a tremendous bargain,” Manheimer said during the bidding.
The property consists of a main 4,200-square-foot building with 10 commercial offices and one residential unit and a smaller building with one office and one apartment. Manheimer noted many of the tenants — who make up the Wellness Center — have been renting for years and there were only two vacancies in all of the units. The Wellness Center, which consists of complementary and alternative medical practitioners, also has offices in an adjacent building owned by a different owner.
The former printing plant building includes 1.6 acres with an 11,000-square-foot property. Rockland has the property assessed at $401,200.
The two properties had been used as collateral by Richard Anderson when he purchased six community newspapers from Rockland to Bar Harbor.
Village NetMedia closed its newspaper operations March 9. Those newspapers included The Village Soup Gazette in Rockland, the Village Soup Journal in Belfast, the Bar Harbor Times in Bar Harbor, the Capital Weekly in Augusta and its entertainment publication, The Scene.
The remaining assets of Village NetMedia were sold March 21 by the bank to Reade Brower, owner of The Free Press. Brower has restarted weekly newspapers in Rockland, Camden and Belfast but the Bar Harbor Times and Capital Weekly were not revived.