Former Saint Catherine's hospital sells for more than $500,000

Jun. 18—FOUNTAIN SPRINGS — The former Saint Catherine Medical Center sold at auction Thursday for more than $500,000, though the successful bidder will not be identified until the legal details are finalized.

The online auction of the hospital building and other structures on the 20.69 acres in Butler Township closed at 2 p.m. Thursday. The property at 101 Broad St. was identified as "Former Ashland State General Hospital," with the primary property site classified as "Office."

The large six-story hospital that has been closed since 2012 due to financial reasons can be seen from state Route 61 as a symbol of the proud coal region heritage and also of its operational problems that led to its closure as the last hospital located in northern Schuylkill County. When it opened as a state hospital to its first patient in 1883, it was the first hospital in the county.

The three-day auction began June 14 on the Ten-X website, which is the world's largest online commercial real estate exchange, according to its website. The minimum bid to start was $200,000, though there was an unrevealed reserve amount. The seller was MSCG PA Spe LLC, a private LLC in New York.

The broker was Craig Dunkle, vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap, a firm specializing in multi-tenant retail, multi-family, office and industrial properties. The firm is located in Philadelphia, but Dunkle works from a satellite office in the Harrisburg-Mechanicsburg area. He is a preferred marketing coordinator and listing agent.

Dunkle spent the last hour of the auction being in contact with registered bidders interested in the property.

"At the last couple of minutes of the auction, I have to be fully attentive on the phone with every single active buyer looking to purchase the property," Dunkle said. "It's in the last couple of minutes that it gets real aggressive. I guess that's the psychology behind the bidding process, whether it's real estate or a $20 trinket on eBay."

Dunkle explained the next steps with a successful bidder.

"Right now, we have a bid that was accepted and we met the reserve amount," he said. "With an acceptable bid, the contract is circulating that they have already reviewed and agreed to prior to the auction. Now the buyer will be moving to escrow and depositing a minimum of 10% of the purchase price."

The closing period will take 30 to 40 days with the "as is" and "where is" language reviewed in all the third-party documents that were produced before the auction, Dunkle said.

"It's a pretty clean process from here on out and just do the closing work," Dunkle said. "If the buyer would decide not to proceed forward, they would lose their deposit and we'd go to the next highest bid."

There were almost 20 registered bidders, though not all participated in the auction.

"Some just register to watch," Dunkle said. "There were about 2,000 people who signed the confidentiality agreement to get access. Out of those 2,000, about 20 of them were actively reviewing and working on it, and out of that about 12 were bidding at the auction, and then it came down to just two."

When asked about the Ten-X auctions being three days, Dunkle said, "They start the auctions to start the bidding, but two first days are normally getting the people registered and approved, but once they are approved, they have that ability to do so. Just as with any auction with a clock, it's the last hour, the last 20 minutes, when everybody is participating and we see some action, but in the last five to 10 minutes is when the cream rises to the top."

The last bid shown on the auction site was for $500,000, but Dunkle said, "It went for over that."

Dunkle said his company does active marketing to those companies that potentially would be interested in properties.

He said this is the first time that the hospital property was on a national online auction, and about 2 1/2 years ago an auction at a tax sale was held.

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