(To read more on the industrial market, click here.)

ST. MARYS, GA-Investors and developers have spotted a potential development gem in a 750-acre marsh and riverfront site, home of the former Durango Georgia Paper Co. mill here, 240 miles southeast of Downtown Atlanta.

Buyer interest from across the US and overseas in the site and in 2,700 acres of nearby timberland has been so intense, it has convinced New York-based Bridge Associates LLC to move the Dec. 6 public auction of the property to the Westin Savannah Harbor hotel in Savannah from the Amelia Island Plantation resort in Amelia Island, FL. The deadline to submit bids is Nov. 23, changed from Dec. 6.

An involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition was filed against Durango Georgia Paper Co. on Oct. 29, 2002, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The Durango Estate converted the case to a voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in November 2002. The US Bankruptcy Court in Savannah appointed Bridge Associates LLC as trustee under terms of a liquidation plan approved by creditors and confirmed by the court in June 2004. Bridge Associates is an eight-year-old turnaround, crisis and interim management firm.

Bridge Associates principal Anthony Schnelling says the decision to move the auction to Savannah “makes sense…since that’s where the bankruptcy court is located.” In a prepared statement, Schnelling says he is “concerned that recent published reports may have a chilling effect on the bidding process by over-emphasizing environmental considerations.”

He says, “We believe that it [the reports] does a disservice to the creditors, many of whom are former employees of the paper mill, and to members of the local community for a potential bidder to use scare tactics and unsubstantiated reports in order to discourage others from participating in the auction.” Schnelling did not identify the bidder using alleged “scare tactics.”

On Sept. 19, St. Marys Redevelopment Group LLC, a sister company of RealtiCorp., a commercial real estate development firm in South Carolina, submitted a bid to redevelop the Durango site as a multimillion-dollar mixed-use development, as GlobeSt.com reported Sept. 30. The bid offered the bankruptcy estate $15 million in cash at closing, plus 18.5% of all future gross revenue from development sales and from the sale of the equipment at the closed paper mill.

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