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Former Child Craft, Keller building sold

Former Child Craft, Keller building sold
Former Child Craft, Keller building sold
Don Erler, center, auctioneer for Sperry Van Ness, passes out information regarding the former Child Craft and Keller Manufacturing Co. property before ThursdayÂ’s absolute auction of the New Salisbury property. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

More than 20 people gathered Thursday afternoon to see the old Child Craft furniture manufacturing building and property in New Salisbury sold for $760,000 to a bidder who has yet to be disclosed, in an absolute auction.
An absolute auction awards the property to the highest bidder, irrespective of the amount, and the listed item or property does not have a minimum bid amount.
The 210,000-square-foot facility and its accompanying 47 acres was worth approximately $3.6 million, according to its latest tax information.
Before Child Craft, the property ‘ located at the end of Keller Drive ‘ was home to Keller Manufacturing Co.
Darrell Voelker, the county’s economic development director, said he was surprised at the facility’s low sale price.
‘It has been cleaned up and improved in the past five years, and many prospects have inquired and visited the building in recent years,’ he said.
‘I suspect the reason it is a risk is that it was really built to make furniture and that means the building layout, column spacing and ceiling height make it less attractive to the modern-day production/distrubution industry.’
The location is excellent, Voelker said, with potential sewer service being extended to the plant.
‘Our labor force and competitive costs to do business will give the new owner a great opportunity to succeed, considering the purchase price,’ he said.
The winning bidder, which owns a distribution company based in the southern United States, had someone present bidding for him via cell phone.
The auction was conducted by auctioneer Don Erler of Sperry Van Ness and was held in the lobby area of the building.
‘This would be a gold mine if you could pick it up and put it in the middle of Louisville,’ Erler said. ‘Instead, it’s here in beautiful Harrison County. It’s a great facility.’
Voelker said the facility is still a gold mine regardless if it’s in Louisville or Harrison County.
To get things started, Erler conducted a practice bidding session with the property for sale being the Old State Capitol Building in downtown Corydon. Voelker was the high bidder at $25 million.
Once the real auction began, Erler asked for a bid of $2 million, then $1 million, without getting a bid. Someone eventually began the bidding at $500,000 and nearly 30 minutes later the property was sold for $760,000.
Ed Bell Jr. and Ed Bell Sr. of Milltown, who have both worked at Child Craft and/or Keller Manufacturing, were present at the auction. Bell Jr. worked at the site for 25 years and hopes to get a job with the new company.
‘I’ve seen the best of times and the worst of times, a lot of up and downs,’ he said.