Buildings in Lewiston and Belfast each attracted more than triple the money sought in their opening prices in furious bidding during the final seconds of an online auction that ended Wednesday.
The property at 17-19 Mollison Way in Lewiston drew a high bid of $5.45 million, more than three times the starting bid price of $1.6 million. And the one at 21 Schoodic Drive in Belfast topped out at $5.95 million, far higher than its starting bid price of $1.8 million.
Neither property met the reserve price, a confidential price for the property set by the seller before the auction. However, the property owners can declare winning bidders whether or not the reserve was met. The winning bid amount for each property is not yet known.
Online auctions have become increasingly popular in recent years for selling properties that languish on the market or that are up for a quick sale.
The auctions heated up during their final hours and minutes. The Lewiston property was at $2.8 million Tuesday morning, and quickly escalated to its high bid of $5.45 million.
During the bidding, the auctioneers started with bidding increments of $250,000, which they lowered to $100,000 to stimulate bidding, and finally to $50,000 and then $25,000.
Each time a bid rose the auctioneers added several minutes to the auction clock. Time extensions linked to higher bids rose 20 times during the Lewiston property auction and 16 times during the Belfast building complex auction.
The 60,000-square-foot building in Lewiston has been occupied since it was built in 1994 by Change Healthcare Technology, a health software, networking and analytics company. It has a lease that runs through Aug. 31, 2025.
Stag Industrial, a Boston-based real estate investment company, owns both the Belfast and Lewiston properties. Stag has more than 100 subsidiaries that own industrial and office properties across the country.
Stag owns five properties in Maine: the Belfast and Lewiston office buildings and distribution warehouses in Biddeford, Augusta and Portland.
The Lewiston property’s high bid of $5.45 million is well above the city of Lewiston assessment of $4.8 million for the buildings and 5.9 acres of land on the property.
The Belfast complex was the former home to credit card lender MNBA, once the largest employer in midcoast Maine.
The buildings now house Bank of America, service company OnProcess Technology and several other companies.
However, large parts of the 318,772-square-foot campus have remained empty. That caused its tax valuation to plummet from $41 million to $16.7 million in four years, causing Belfast to refund its largest taxpayer, Stag, $384,000.
Tony McDonald, one of the partners at the Boulos Co. in Portland, which cooperated with Ten-X on the sale, said earlier that he had been trying to lease the space for $10 per square foot. The property had been listed for lease for 1 ½ years before the auction.
“It’s a very large space for a rural market,” he said of the difficulty in leasing it.
McDonald said companies leasing space in the buildings will stay in place with the pending sale.